In a battle between two of the biggest servers in the game, Kevin Anderson survived John Isner in an absolute marathon in the men’s semifinals at Wimbledon, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24.
Here are five takeaways from the South African’s epic victory over the American No. 1.
It was the second-longest match at a Grand Slam in the Open Era. Anderson and Isner battled it out on Centre Court for six hours and 36 minutes. It just edged Fabrice Santoro beating Arnaud Clement in the first round of the 2004 French Open, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14, which lasted six hours and 33 minutes, and trails only Isner beating Nicolas Mahut in the first round of Wimbledon in 2010, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68, which lasted a whopping 11:05.
“John’s such a great guy. I really feel for him,” Anderson said of Isner. “If I was on the opposite side, I don’t know how you can take playing that long and coming up without a win. He’s had a great career, and he’s pushed me throughout my career, and I congratulate him on such a great tournament.”
WATCH—Daily Serve from Day 10 at Wimbledon:
Isner broke the Wimbledon record for most aces in a tournament. Goran Ivanisevic ripped 213 aces during his run to the Wimbledon title in 2001, which was the Wimbledon record for most aces in a tournament before this year. Isner came into the semifinals with 161 aces for the tournament and, with his 53 aces against Anderson, he got to 214—a new record.
Anderson reached the second Grand Slam final of his career. The South African reached the first Grand Slam final of his career as the world No. 32 last summer at the US Open, falling to Rafael Nadal. Now, as the world No. 8, he’s through to his second, and will face the winner of the second semifinal between Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“I’m through to the final. What can I say? It’s part of a dream come true,” Anderson said afterwards.
“I’m definitely going to have to recover as much as I can to be ready and fresh as possible, though.”
Anderson’s the first South African to reach the Wimbledon men’s final in 97 years. The last South African man to do it was Brian Norton back in 1921.
He’s also going to crack the Top 5 for the first time no matter what happens in the final. The world No. 8 is projected to surpass his previous career-high ranking of No. 7 and go up to No. 5 just by reaching the final—if he wins the title, he’s projected to go even higher to No. 4 in the world.
The No. 10-ranked Isner will also surpass his career-high of No. 9—he’ll be at least No. 8 on Monday.
Strokes of Genius is a world-class documentary capturing the historic 13-year rivalry between tennis icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is timed for release as the anticipation crests with Roger as returning champion, 10 years after their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship – an epic match so close and so reflective of their competitive balance that, in the end, the true winner was the sport itself.