Wimbledon | Anderson wins a six hour marathon
Kevin Anderson and John Isner have contested the longest men’s semi-final in Wimbledon history.
The six-hour 36-minute recorded smashed the previous record of four-hours and 44-minutes held by Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro in a semi won by the Serbian in 2013.
The winner of the match will take on Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, who have been forced to wait for over three and half hours having originally been scheduled to start their semi at 4.30pm.
I don’t really know what to say right now. Just playing like that, in those conditions, is really tough for both of us. But somebody has to win. John is such a great guy, and I really feel for him. I apologize I’m not more excited right now Kevin Anderson
It is not Isner’s first marathon match at SW19 having triumphed over Nicolas Mahut in 2010 after 11 hours and five minutes. That was another record breaking effort with the 6’10” American winning 6-4 3-6- 6-7(7), 7-6(3) 70-68, playing over three days.
Anderson, the No.8 seed, beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals in five sets, 13-11 in the fifth, with Isner, the No.9 seed, beating 2016 finalist Milos Raonic over four sets.
With both making their tenth appearance – albeit their first in the last four – there was plenty to play for but it was not expected to be a classic. The length of time it took to complete and the number of aces delivered by the two players who topped the table with the numbers delivered, the pair made it a fest for those who enjoy powerful serving and quick points with very few rallies.
Needless to say, it was close and featured three tiebreaks.
Anderson took the first of them 8-6 having saved three break points having failed to convert the one he held.
Isner fought back and 46-minutes later levelled the match by claiming the second tie-break 7-5, having nearly squandered a 5-0 lead in the breaker.
But then, in the third and following two and half hours of play, the Isner serve finally succumbed ( after 110 service holds throughout the tournament) to trail 5-3! However he breaks back immediately and eventually the pair play the third tiebreak of the match which goes Isner’s way 11-9 after Anderson squandered a couple of great opportunities to pull ahead. He had served for the set at 5-3 and double-faulted serving for it again in the breaker!
Now trailing 2-1, Anderson hangs on in the fourth and after exchanging serves, broke again for 5-4 and served out to level by claiming the set 6-4 on his fourth set point!
After three-hours and 43-minutes the pair stepped up for the decider, with no tiebreak to come to their aid.
Then with the match poised at 24-all, Anderson fell in a rally, picked himself up and continued the play with a left-handed forehand to win the point. It was pivotal in that it showed the tiring Isner the desire was still there and he went on to break the big American to lead.
All the South African had to do was hold his serve and he would be playing in Sunday’s final. Taking a deep breath he stood tall on the base line and did just that to 15.
Speaking to the BBC after coming off court, a stunned Anderson said: “I don’t really know what to say right now. Just playing like that, in those conditions, is really tough for both of us. But somebody has to win. John is such a great guy, and I really feel for him. I apologize I’m not more excited right now.”