Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

Novak Djokovic

His ultramarathon loss to Kevin Anderson, by that score and over all those hours, in the Wimbledon semifinals on Friday amounted to the longest Grand Slam singles semifinal in tennis history.

John Isner could barely run after an exhausting battle with Kevin Anderson who beat the American 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (9/11) 6-4 26-24.

Playing Isner who is enshrined in Wimbledon folklore for winning the "endless match" - an 11 hour five minute humdinger against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in 2010 - was never going to be easy for Anderson.

Despite going on for almost seven hours, Isner was nowhere close to beating his own record for the longest tennis match history - a first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, which went on for more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth in 2010 also at Wimbledon.

But if Nadal rallies, he would encounter Anderson in a second grand slam final in less than a year, having toppled the 32-year-old at the US Open last September.

The eighth seed will face either twice champion Rafael Nadal or three-times victor Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.

The final set alone lasted for two hours and 50 minutes.

"Just playing like that in those conditions was tough on both of us".

The 33-year-old agreed with Anderson that all Slams should introduce a tiebreak in the final set and fall in line with the US Open.

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At one point in the fifth set, a spectator shouted, "Come on, guys! I have to say congratulations to John on a great tournament and hopefully he can come back stronger".

But that break in the eighth game of the third set did not hurt anything like the moment when he finally slapped a tired forehand wide at 7.46pm local time to surrender his title hopes.

Their 12-year rivalry stands at 26-25 in favor of Djokovic, but those numbers don't reflect the topsy-turvy nature of the on-court relationship between the Spaniard and the Serb.

Anderson, the first South African Wimbledon men´s finalist since Brian Norton in 1921, faces Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in Sunday´s showpiece. "I really do. I think with the performances I've had, I deserve to be in the semifinals", he continued.

"Either Nadal or Djokovic - neither needs any introduction".

With Anderson and Isner, known as two of the most powerful servers in the tournament, it was predictably hard for either player to break the other's serve. Isner finished with 53 aces to Anderson's 49, and Isner during the fifth set broke the single-tournament aces record with his 214th. Anderson served for the third at 5-3, got broken, then had a pair of set points in that tiebreaker, double-faulting one away.

Although the All England Club has a retractable roof with lights, a curfew of 11 p.m.is implemented in order not to disturb its residential neighbors in southwest London.

Those named Kevin Anderson are being offered a free "victory feast" for them and two friends - in honour of his three-set victory. It's the 12th matchup between No. 8 seed Anderson and No. 9 Isner, who leads the head-to-head 8-3. Not only is he advancing to the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career at Wimbledon, he and his wife, Highland Park native Madison McKinley, are expecting their first baby girl.

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