Anderson tops Is­ner, 26-24, in 5th set; Djokovic leads Nadal

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Howard Fen­drich

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.

KIRSTY WIG­GLESWORTH — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Kevin Anderson cel­e­brates af­ter de­feat­ing John Is­ner, 2624, in the fifth set on Fri­day.

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