Anderson beats Isner as epic becomes second-longest match in Wimbledon history

Novak Djokovic

GETTYNovak Djokovic is starting to hit top form

"I don't really know what to say right now", Anderson said. Just playing like that in those conditions was really tough on both of us.

Kevin Anderson edged a tight opening set 7-6 (6) against American John Isner.

As a result, Friday's second semifinal between world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will finish Saturday after Friday's 11 p.m. local curfew stopped the match.

Let's start with the score: 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9) 6-4, 26-24.

The only silver lining for Anderson, if it can be called that, is that the length of his match had a knock-on effect on the Nadal-Djokovic semi-final.

Both players had set points on their own serve, and both were denied until Anderson scooped a forehand wide and Isner was ahead.

The 31-year-old is eyeing a 13th major after making the semi-finals of a Slam for the first time since finishing runner-up at the 2016 US Open.

Friday's fifth set wasn't quite as long, but still, it lasted almost 3 hours as the semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill.

"I feel pretty bad", Isner said in a news conference. "I've hit a lot of left-handed balls throughout my life". "My left heel is killing me and I have an bad blister on my right foot".

The match time beat the previous Wimbledon semifinal record of four hours, 44 minutes set by Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro in 2013. In a fifth set that lasted 2 hours 55 minutes, Anderson never faced a break point.

There are no tiebreakers in the fifth set of matches at Wimbledon.

"I hope this is a bit of sign for Grand Slams to change this format", Anderson said. While Isner's match back in 2010 was a fun side note that helped garner interest in the tournament for fans it might not usually reach, to have a never-ending saga played in the semifinal doesn't look great for the sport. "I think it will take a long time to process everything that has happened today, but I do know that I'm into the finals of Wimbledon, and that's really part of a dream come true".

For Isner, who has come off second best in five-set marathons for the fourth successive year at Wimbledon, things simply can not go on like this any more.

Anderson finished the match with 49 aces and 118 winners; Isner had 53 aces and 129 winners. The Serbian won a thrilling third set tiebreak to take 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9) lead into the following day.

He fashioned three break points from the next rally and took the second, the first break of the set.

Until Friday, he had not dropped serve until Anderson halted that run at 110 service games in the third set.

"We don't want it to be 70-68, John", someone shouted from the crowd at 8-8.

The marathon contest between America's Isner and South Africa's Anderson has also become the second longest match in the history of All England Club.

Friday's contest lasted so long, the day's second semifinal didn't finish.

One key area in which Anderson held the edge throughout was in unforced errors, as Isner committed 59 to just 24 for Anderson.

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