Anderson tops Isner, 26-24, in 5th set; Djokovic leads Nadal
LONDON » To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn’t really seem fair. To Anderson, anyway.
They had played on and on, through 6½ hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points — the last.
So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: “At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us.”
He continued: “John’s such a great guy, and I really feel for him, because if I’d been on the opposite side, I don’t know how you can take that, LOOKAHEAD TO SATURDAY Serena Williams goes for her eighth Wimbledon title and first major championship since giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, on Sept. 1. The 36-year-old American takes on Angelique Kerber, who lost to Williams in the 2016 final. Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, is playing just her fourth tournament since returning to action in March. Kerber, a two-time Grand Slam champion, is playing in her first major final since her triumph at the 2016 U.S. Open. Before the women’s final begins, the Centre Court crowd will be treated to the conclusion of the men’s semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Play will begin at 8 a.m., with the women’s final to follow.
playing for so long and coming up short.”
Only one match at Wimbledon ever lasted longer: Isner’s 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, the longest match in tennis history. It went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth on Court 18, which now bears a plaque SATURDAY’S FORECAST
Partly cloudy. High of 81degrees. FRIDAY’S KEY RESULTS Men’s semifinals: No. 8 Kevin Anderson beat No. 9 John Isner 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24; No. 12 Novak Djokovic leads No. 2 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) — match suspended due to curfew. STAT OF THE DAY
6 hours, 36 minutes: The length of Anderson and Isner’s match — the second-longest in Wimbledon history.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If a match is 12-all in the fifth set, I don’t think it needs to continue.” — Anderson on the stage of a match at which Wimbledon should consider introducing a fifth-set tiebreaker. commemorating it.
Friday’s contest lasted so long, the day’s second semifinal didn’t finish.
Novak Djokovic was leading Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) in a compelling showdown filled with entertaining points that was suspended as soon as the third set concluded at just past 11 p.m., the curfew at the All England Club. Some people in the stands booed the decision to halt the match after a fantastic tiebreaker in which Nadal wasted three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7. Djokovic cashed in on his second when Nadal’s backhand found the net after an 18-stroke exchange.
Now they’ll come back Saturday to figure out who will face Anderson in the final.
Anderson will certainly appreciate the chance to put his feet up ahead of Sunday’s final, while Nadal and Djokovic — who have a combined 29 Grand Slam titles between them, five at Wimbledon — push each other some more.
Anderson’s fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill.
“He stayed the course incredibly well,” said the No. 9 seed Isner, a 33-year-old American playing in his first major semifinal. “Just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn’t happen.”
Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the righthander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty.
“That definitely brings a smile to my face,” said Anderson, the runner-up to Nadal at last year’s U.S. Open. “At that stage, you’re just trying to fight in every single moment, and I was like, ‘Just get up!”’
The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals. Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it’s hard to imagine how Anderson will have much left for his second Slam final.
Wimbledon doesn’t use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women. Both Isner and Anderson said they’d like to see that change.
The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at Illinois. In the pros, Isner had won eight of 11 previous matchups. But this one was as close as can be.
There wasn’t a whole lot of intrigue, or momentum shifts. The serving, though, was something else. Isner pounded his at up to 142 mph; Anderson reached 136 mph. They combined for 102 aces: 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson.
“The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed — a lot to be proud of,” said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner’s coaches.
Kevin Anderson celebrates after defeating John Isner, 2624, in the fifth set on Friday.