From Matt Fitzgerald and Ed McGrogan:
Nearly a year ago, Kevin Anderson toppled John Isner, 26-24, in a decisive fifth set to win a marathon semifinal at the All England Club. On Friday, the defending Wimbledon runner-up joined Isner as seeded casualties to fall before the second week, with Guido Pella knocking off Anderson, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4). Anderson and Isner each came into the grass-court major with questions about their health, and it’s clear their lack of match fitness contributed to their early exits.
Anderson, who missed the entire clay-court season to nurse a right elbow injury, lost to an opponent holding just a 6-9 record in tour-level matches on grass, and had yet to reach the round of 16 at a major (in his 20th main draw appearance) until Friday’s victory. Isner, playing his first event since suffering a stress fracture in his left foot during the Miami Open final, bowed out in the second round to Mikhail Kukushkin, a player who hadn’t advanced to the third round at Wimbledon in five years.
Anderson will fall outside of the Top 10, while Isner will drop at least two places to No. 14, and could fall further depending on how results shake out.
Three takeaways from the No. 4 seed's third-round loss:
1. The eighth-ranked Anderson was bumped up four places thanks to Wimbledon’s unique formula rewarding recent grass-court successes—a decision that stirred controversy given his ranking and limited play in 2019. If anything, the just-returning South African was already ranked too high, considering his current form. For it to be bumped up further simply made no sense, even if Wimbledon's formula and rationale has been made transparent for years.
Anderson acquitted himself nicely in wins over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Janko Tipsarevic, but you wonder what Dominic Thiem, who was bumped out of the Top 4 by Anderson, could have done if given the same draw. The Austrian was ousted in the first round by Sam Querrey, one of the top unseeded players in the tournament.
2. Did you see the penultimate point of this match? If you didn't, at least check out this reaction to it:
Like his player box, Pella celebrated like he won the match after winning one of the best points of the tournament. Serving at 5-4 in the third-set tiebreaker, Pella hit a backhand to an approaching Anderson in the middle of the court. It led to five nimble Anderson volleys—he's quite comfortable at net—and five impressive reactions from Pella under pressure.
Naturally, Pella finished off the match with yet another volley winner:
2018: Beats last year’s finalist— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2019
2019: Beats last year’s finalist@guido_pella provides another shock, defeating Kevin Anderson to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/5BIa9ZpLLU
3. A first-timer in the fourth round of a major with the top seed in his quarter eliminated sounds like the definition of a wide-open section of the draw. And you would be right. With Pella's victory over Anderson, one of the following players will be a Wimbledon semifinalist: Pella; Milos Raonic, Pella's next opponent; Roberto Bautista Agut; Benoit Paire.
Raonic, who earlier on Friday beat fellow serving ace Reilly Opelka, is a former Wimbledon finalist. Bautista Agut and Paire have reached the fourth round at Wimbledon before, but have never gone further. One of them will—and one of these four will have a tremendous opportunity one week from today.