After many, many hours, Anderson beats Isner in Wimbledon semis

Milos Raonica

After the epic encounter between Kevin Anderson and John Isner, Nadal did not hit the first serve of his match until 8.09pm.

Anderson reached his first grand slam final at the US Open previous year, at the 34th time of trying. Fortunately, he was at the end of the court farthest from the Royal Box, where the pair of visiting Duchesses, Kate and the newly married Meghan, sat in the front row.

"It really could have gone either ways", Djokovic said.

"If I talk about it, then you are going to write about this, and I don't want you to write about this today".

"I don't know what I expected from this tournament". After more than a year of trouble, Djokovic finally had surgery in February, then took a while to find his groove.

But Isner was playing his first Grand Slam semifinal while the South African was in his second after making the US Open final. They combined for 102 aces - 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson.

Repeatedly, the answer was, of course, "No", even when Anderson held break points at 7-all, 10-all and 17-all.

He won the fourth set despite once again squandering a service-break lead and appeared to have the edge heading into the decider.

Isner, who has now competed in the two longest matches in Wimbledon history, also called for change.

Nadal battled back in the second, taking leads of 3-1 and 5-2 while breaking Djokovic twice.

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Djokovic was under the cosh in the next but two booming serves saved two break points and suddenly Nadal found himself at 0-30 as he served to stay in the match.

While Anderson-Isner was mostly a serving duel with a few longer rallies thrown in, Djokovic and Nadal repeatedly slugged it out from the baseline, chasing each other around the court and coming up with spectacular winners from every corner.

As intense as any athletes in any sport, these two didn't exactly slowly ramp things up when they returned to Centre Court about 14 hours after they'd departed.

The atmosphere, in sharp contrast to Friday's slug-fest, was electric. He converted his second set point when Nadal netted a backhand, minutes past the tournament's 11 p.m. curfew. Djokovic raced to 40-0 and when his rival's exhausted forehand floated long, the 12th seed raised his arms again. Anderson moved to his first Wimbledon final as Isner produced his 59th unforced error.

"It's been a roller-coaster ride for him the last couple rounds, but he had a day off, which means a lot", Djokovic said. "I wish I could have one".

For Nadal, victory would put him in a sixth Wimbledon final and 25th at the majors. I was for the roof because we started to play under it. "Playing like that in those conditions is really tough on both of us", he said.

"I have nothing to complain about".

"John is a great guy and I feel for him", Anderson told the BBC after Friday's match. For all the talk of the Federer/Nadal rivalry, the Djokovic/Nadal pairing may have produced the most fiery tennis ever. I gave it my best, and that's it.

"It's fair to say that was a great match and he beat me".

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