Every single set was hard-earned, with Nadal taking the first 7-5 before Del Potro evened things up on a tiebreak in the second.
"I wanted to stay there", del Potro said afterward, "all night long".
Del Potro, whose best run at the All England Club saw him reach the semi-finals in 2013, triumphed 7-6 (7/1) 7-6 (7/5) 5-7 7-6 (7/5) to set up a last-eight meeting with Rafael Nadal. A former champion saved more strength for the final set, breaking del Potro in game five and saving two break points in the following game to move 4-2 up and cement his break.
Now Nadal will face longtime rival Novak Djokovic in the semifinals Friday.
Astros option Ken Giles to Triple-A Fresno
The Astros are recalling left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez from Double-A Corpus Christi in a corresponding move. Houston came away with the 6-5 win in a weird walk-off in the 11th inning against the Athletics.
Nadal wasted a fourth chance at 7-6, before letting 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro grab three points in a row for that set. Nadal was back to needing one game to claim the set. It had a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands. He stepped on the short wall and landed in the lap of a female spectator.
Del Potro was straining to stay in touch in almost every point, and his gambling instincts drove him to explore the white lines. Del Potro, who sprayed his once pained wrist with a powder on most changeovers, had new shoes brought to him after the seventh game of the fourth set.
Del Potro finished with 77 winners to Nadal's 67 but could not convert any of his five break points in the fifth set. There were no service breaks until the tenth game where Del Porto beat Nadal with a forehand victor to get the service break and set, 6-4.
There was a look of glee in Del Potro's sometimes sad eyes, and his lumbering between-points walk had a bit more energy to it. Nadal, struggling to get a solid second serve into hard areas, was de-fanged for long stretches.
The powerful Vesely broke for a 3-2 lead when a rare Nadal forehand error drew gasps of surprise from the crowd. "Also, he has a fantastic game".