Curfew halts Djokovic, Nadal Wimbledon SF

Curfew halts Djokovic, Nadal Wimbledon SF

A record-breaking day at Wimbledon ended with the second men's semi-final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic falling foul of the 11pm curfew.

After the epic six hours and 36 minutes semi-final encounter between Kevin Anderson and John Isner, top seed Nadal did not hit the first serve of his match against 12th-seeded Djokovic until 8.09pm.

That gave two players who have contested some of the most gruelling matches in tennis history less than three hours or the prospect of completing the match on Saturday.

In the end, and to the surprise of no one, they did not come close to finishing after two hours and 54 minutes of play on Friday night.

With Djokovic leading 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9) it became the first match since the Centre Court roof was added in 2009 to be stopped due to the strict curfew imposed by Merton Council to avoid disruption to local residents.

Andy Murray's third-round match against Marcos Baghdatis in 2012 pushed the limit to 11.02pm and the time was exactly the same when Nadal netted a backhand to give Djokovic a two sets to one lead.

Novak Djokovic leaves Wimbledon's centre court late Friday night but he'll be back Saturday

The announcement of the curtailment of play was greeted with understandable disappointment by the crowd, the vast majority of whom had stayed as a contest more than worthy of a Wimbledon final played out in front of them.

But only one of these men can move through to take on Anderson on Sunday, and they will resume on Saturday, when ticket holders for the women's final will get an unexpected treat.

The match will get back under way at 1pm, tournament organisers said, and it will be played under the roof again, given it began in those conditions.

That is likely to delay the start of women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber, which is scheduled to commence at 2pm.

Only seven of the previous 51 meetings between Nadal and Djokovic had been won by the player who lost the opening set, so it was a major boost to the Serb's hopes when he took the opener.

But world No.1 broke twice in the second set and fended off more break points to level the match.

With the time approaching 10pm, that made it highly unlikely there would be a winner on Friday and both players knew how important that third set was likely to be.

The momentum was with Nadal but Djokovic's serve kept him just about out of danger.

A stunning tiebreak was a fitting conclusion to the day's play.

After recovering from a poor volley that left him 4-2 down, Nadal did his best to pummel Djokovic off the court with his forehand, but the Serbian would not yield.

Nadal will rue missing two returns, while he got a taste of his own medicine on the second chance when Djokovic feathered a drop shot over the net.

Djokovic missed a return as the clock ticked to 11pm but on the final lung-busting rally it was Nadal who faltered.

Earlier, South African eighth seed Anderson outlasted American ninth seed Isner 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 26-24 in the second-longest match in professional tennis history - behind only Isner's record 11-hours and five-minute first-round Wimbledon triumph over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in 2010.