Kevin Anderson fends off John Isner in record-breaking Wimbledon semi-final

Jo Caldwell
July 18, 2018

Spain's Nadal broke twice in the fourth set when play resumed on Saturday, but Djokovic fought back to take his second match point to edge a dramatic decider.

"I've felt better before", said Isner who had also been hoping to be the first American man in a Slam final since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009.

When asked how he would recover and play in the final Sunday, Anderson said: "It's tough, I really don't know".

It became the second longest match in the history of the men's singles at Wimbledon when it passed five hours and 31 minutes.

The exhausted players embraced at the net after a classic encounter eventually finished 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (9/11) 6-4 26-24 in South African Anderson's favour after six hours and 36 minutes. Isner was serving first, with Anderson then having to hold each time in order to stay alive in the match.

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Eight years after his 11 hour, 3 minute saga with Nicolas Mahut, Isner found himself on Centre Court for a first time and facing another big server in Kevin Anderson. For Anderson, it's his second in a year. The Centre Court roof was closed so that the players could continue to play under the lights.

Anderson pulled off the upset thanks to 28 aces and clutch play on break points throughout the match. "I really do. I think with the performances I've had, I deserve to be in the semifinals", he continued.

"I feel pretty bad", Isner said afterward.

This time, there was to be no tiebreak as the final set at Wimbledon is traditionally decided by a difference of two games.

Nadal and Djokovic regularly - and spectacularly - ran down shots to force long rallies, drawing gasps and cheers from the appreciative crowd. "At the end you feel like it is a draw, but someone has to win", a drained Anderson, who had sensationally beaten defending champion Roger Federer in another nail-biting five setter two days ago, said.

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"But I'm in the final of Wimbledon and it's an incredible achievement for me after what I've been through".

Djokovic, whose last grand slam final appearance came at the 2016 US Open, said: "I'm just overwhelmed". I just expected to win a match, then win the next match.

It surpassed the previous longest Wimbledon semi-final, between Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro in 2013, which lasted four hours and 44 minutes.

"If I have to compare the game that I've played, the level of tennis that I've had (all of) those years and today, I think it's pretty close".

Nadal gifted a break back with a suddenly sloppy service game but when he struck again for 5-3 Djokovic's frustration boiled over and he began hammering the sole of his shoe with his racket. "I really hope we can look at this, because at the end you don´t feel great", said Anderson who has been on court for over 21 hours at these championships.

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In Friday's opening set, Djokovic's serve proved crucial after not faced any break points and earning the crucial break on Nadal's serve in the seventh game with a forehand victor to claim the set 6-4.

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