LONDON (Reuters) - Kevin Anderson became the first South African man to reach the Wimbledon final since 1921 after outlasting American John Isner 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24 in a marathon encounter on Friday.
The two players battled for six hours and 36 minutes, the longest ever singles semi-final at the All England Club, before Anderson advanced to the title clash in his 10th main draw appearance.
Eighth seed Anderson will meet either twice champion Rafa Nadal or three-times winner Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.
“I don’t know what to say. Just playing like that in those conditions was really tough on both of us. At the end you feel like it is a draw, but someone has to win,” Anderson said.
“John is a great guy and I really feel for him. If I was on the opposite side I don’t know how you can take that playing for so long and coming out short... getting through something like that is quite different.
“I’ve known John for such a long time, he is a great guy. To be honest he has pushed me through my career and had a great one himself. I have pushed myself harder because of the success he has had.”
In the day’s second semi-final, contested under the roof, Djokovic led Nadal 6-4 3-6 7-6(9) before play was suspended for the day after the 2200GMT deadline was reached.
The match will resume on Saturday.
Highlights from day 11 of the Wimbledon championships on Friday (times GMT):
Novak Djokovic claimed the third set 7-6(9) to take a 2-1 lead in the contest. Play was suspended after the 2200 GMT deadline was reached. Nadal and Djokovic will resume their semi-final on Saturday.
2101 ISNER COUNTS COST OF BRUTAL SEMI-FINAL
John Isner said he was looking forward to a few days’ rest after his taxing last-four defeat by Kevin Anderson.
“I feel pretty terrible. My left heel is killing me. I have an awful blister on my right foot. I’ve felt better before,” the American said. “A few days’ rest, maybe more than that, and I’ll recoup and try to get all healed up again.
“It stinks to lose, but I gave it everything I had. I just lost to someone who is just a little bit better at the end.”
Second seed Rafael Nadal fought back against Novak Djokovic to win the second set 6-3 to level the last-four contest at one set apiece. The Spaniard converted two out of three opportunities to break serve in the second set.
Novak Djokovic broke Rafael Nadal in the seventh game before claiming the opening set 6-4 to put the pressure on the Spaniard in their semi-final. The Serbian 12th seed fired five aces and 14 winners.
1911 NADAL, DJOKOVIC KICK OFF SECOND SEMI-FINAL UNDER ROOF
Second seed Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic began their semi-final encounter under the roof.
Djokovic is looking to deny French Open champion Nadal the chance to claim back-to-back titles in Paris and London for the third time in his career.
Kevin Anderson said that grand slam authorities had to mull changing their format following his draining semi-final encounter with John Isner which lasted over six hours.
“I really hope this a sign for grand slams to change this format. For us to be out there for that amount of time, I really hope we can address this,” the South African, who won the fifth set 26-24 to beat Isner, said.
“At the same time I’m through to the final. I’m definitely going to have to recover as much as I can. It’ll take a long time to process what’s happened today but I’m into the final and that’s a dream come true.”
Kevin Anderson becomes the first South African man to reach the Wimbledon final since Brian Norton in 1921, overcoming American John Isner 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24 in six hours and 36 minutes in the second-longest match ever at the All England Club.
Anderson hit 49 aces and 118 winners in the epic contest on Centre Court. He plays Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s title clash.
The boys singles semi-final between Briton Jack Draper and fifth seed Nicolas Mejia lasted four hours and 23 minutes before Draper prevailed 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 19-17.
1809 SECOND-LONGEST MATCH AT WIMBLEDON
John Isner and Kevin Anderson were level at 20-20 with the match, which has crossed six hours, the second-longest singles contest ever at the All England Club.
Isner was involved in the longest match at Wimbledon in 2010 against Nicolas Mahut and won in 11 hours and five minutes over three days. That contest ended 6–4 3–6 6–7(7) 7–6(3) 70–68 for a total of 183 games.
1741 MURRAY-AZARENKA REACH MIXED DOUBLES FINAL
Jamie Murray and Victoria Azarenka beat the British pair of Jay Clarke and Harriet Dart 6-2 6-2 to storm into the mixed doubles final.
Up next for them is the winner of the other semi-final clash between Michael Venus-Katarina Srebotnik and Alexander Peya-Nicole Melichar.
1714 LONGEST SEMI-FINAL SINCE 2013
John Isner was leading Kevin Anderson 12-11 in the deciding set with the match having crossed the five-hour mark. The contest became the longest men’s singles semi-final at Wimbledon, beating the match between Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro in 2013 which ended in four hours and 44 minutes.
1631 KREJCIKOVA-SINIAKOVA REACH WOMEN’S DOUBLES FINAL
The Czech pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova beat Poland’s Alicja Rosolska and American Abigail Spears 7-5 6-4 in the women’s doubles semi-final. The third seeds face American Nicole Melichar and Czech Kveta Peschke, seeded 12th, in the title match.
Kevin Anderson broke John Isner twice to claim the fourth set 6-4 and force a decider after 3-1/2 hours of play.
John Isner had his streak of consecutive service game wins ended at 110 by Kevin Anderson, who took a 5-3 lead. However, the American broke right back before forcing a tiebreak.
Isner claimed the third set 7-6(9) for a 2-1 lead in the contest which approached the three-hour mark.
1440 MELICHAR-PESCHKE INTO WOMEN’S DOUBLES FINAL
Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke upset sixth seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu 6-3 4-6 7-5 in two hours and 16 minutes to reach the women’s doubles final.
1411 DETERMINED ISNER DRAWS LEVEL AT 1-1
Kevin Anderson fought back from a 5-0 deficit in the tiebreak but John Isner held his nerve to claim the second set 7-6(5) to level the contest at one set apiece.
A 19th ace of the match bailed American Isner out of a potentially difficult situation.
Kevin Anderson edged a tight opening set 7-6(6) against American John Isner. Earlier, at 5-5, ninth seed Isner made it 100 straight service games unbroken in this year’s tournament.
1212 MEN’S SEMI-FINAL ACTION UNDER WAY
Kevin Anderson and John Isner began their semi-final contest on Centre Court on Friday.
Both players are making their 10th appearance at the All England Club. The winner will be second on the Open era list for most attempts before reaching the Wimbledon final, behind Marin Cilic (11th attempt).
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra, Ken Ferris and Toby Davis