Wimbledon: Kevin Anderson won the second-longest tournament match to reach final. (Reuters Photo)

South Africa’s Kevin Anderson wins longest Wimbledon semifinal in history


South Africa’s Kevin Anderson beat USA’s John Isner to reach the Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles final on Saturday in what was the longest semi-final in the history of the tournament.

It took eighth seed Anderson six hours and 35 minutes to get past ninth seed Isner 7-6(8), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24 at the Centre Court of All England Club.

This was the second longest match in the history of Wimbledon. The longest one also involved Isner, where he beat Nicolas Mahut 64, 36, 67, 76, 7068 in 11 hours across three days in the first round of 2010.

This is the first time in 98 years that a South African player has reached the final of Wimbledon.

Anderson’s quarter-final against Roger Federer also went for a little over four hours but on Friday, Anderson and Isner produced one of the tennis classics with their skills on the court.

Anderson struck a total of 49 aces in the match while Isner hit 53. While the winner struck by Isner were more than Anderson, it were the latter’s total unforced errors (24) which were far lesser than Isner’s 59.

Anderson had taken the first set but Isner hit right back to take the next two. It required immense mental strength from the South African to come back in the fourth set and take it by breaking Isner.

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However, the final set was absolute class from the two as they gave each other nothing at all when serving. The way the two fired up aces to get themelves out of tricky situations was the power mental tennis at its best.

At 14-14, Anderson was about to break Isner after going 40-15 up but the American hit back with two straight aces to make it 40-40 and then won the next two points to take a 15-14 lead.

John Isner was also involved in the longest match in the history of tennis. (Reuters Photo)

Thereafter, both showed their strength while serving but Anderson clearly looked the better one when it came to rallying up.

At 24-24, Isner was serving and Anderson was 15-0 up. Isner served and while picking the serve Anderson fell but the way he got up immediately and played the next couple of strokes to eventually win the point was remarkable. It forced the commentators to say that Anderson should be awarded another point just for getting up and playing the next stroke like that.

However, Anderson did not really need to be awarded a point. The South African won the next point to go up 40-0 and even though Isner got a point back, Anderson was eventually able to break Isner.

While serving for the match, nerves were into play. Anderson while trying to serve and volley misplaced and easy shot to go 0-15 down. But from there the South African showed the steely nerves he had against Federer to win the match.

After the match, Anderson said that he and Isner both deserved to win this one. He said it almost feels like it’s a draw.

“At the end you feel like it’s a draw, but someone has to win. John is a great guy and I really feel for him,” Anderson said.

He did not celebrate widly, just a nod, eyes welled up with emotions and went and hugged Isner at the net. Funnily, he even apologised for that.

“I’m sorry for not celebrating but I am happy. Just tired.”

After two back-to-back marathons, Anderson said he would follow up the same process to recover and will have to be ready for the final.

“I try to follow the same protocols to recover and I will have to be ready. Against guys like Nadal and Djokovic, I mean they don’t need any intoduction.”

In the final, Anderson will be up against Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, who were yet to play.



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