Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro wept courtside after downing third seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday to set up a French Open semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal.
The injured-plagued former US Open champion battled through in three hours and 50 minutes after the match had been delayed by rain on Wednesday to reach the last four at Roland Garros for the second time, but first in nine years.
“It’s tough to speak now,” said an emotional Del Potro.
“I’ve been a long time without feeling good with my body. I had surgery three times on my wrist and I was close to quitting this sport. I don’t have words to explain what this means to me and my team.”
The fifth seed has now beaten Cilic eight times in a row, but on Friday he will face arguably the toughest test in tennis when he takes on 10-time champion Nadal for a place in the final.
Del Potro, the US Open winner in 2009, is playing the tournament for only the second time since 2012 after a spate of injuries.
The 29-year-old missed the event for four straight years before a third-round loss in 2017, but has regained fitness in recent months and reached the semi-finals at the US Open last year, where he lost to Nadal.