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In the day’s most dramatic match, Nadal’s foot began hurting during the first set, particularly when he moved to his left to hit defensive forehands. He was visited twice by a trainer, including right before the tiebreaker, when his foot was taped up, which helped alleviate the problem a bit.

Still, Nadal fell behind 3-0 in the tiebreaker, favoring his left foot during points and stepping gingerly after them. Up in his guest box, Toni Nadal _ Rafael’s uncle and coach _ was gnawing on his finger nails.

Aided by mistakes from del Potro, Nadal won four consecutive points to go ahead 4-3, but then fell behind 6-5. Nadal saved that set point with a service winner, ended a 20-stroke exchange with a backhand that landed right on the baseline, and took the set when del Potro double-faulted.

Del Potro _ who missed most of 2010 after right wrist surgery _ won the second set, but then he tumbled to the turf early in the third, clutching at his left hip. He left to get checked by a trainer, but continued.

Despite both players’ health issues, they provided some scintillating tennis. Del Potro pressured Nadal with his powerful forehand and strong serve, often attacking the net. Nadal countered with a series of spectacular passing shots.

After Nadal served out the match at love, the crowd gave both players a lengthy standing ovation.

“I will try my best,” Nadal said, “to be very competitive on Wednesday.”