Wimbledon semifinals preview: Anderson v. Isner; Djokovic v. Nadal

Adjust Comment Print

They had played on and on, through 6 1/2 hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points - the last. Anderson's win over John Isner lasted 6 ½ hours and went to 26-24 in the fifth set.

With Isner serving at 24-24, 0-15, the right-handed Anderson fell down, dropped his racket, got up and played the point left-handed.

The previous longest semifinal match at Wimbledon was in 2013, when Djokovic beat Juan Martín del Potro in 4 hours, 44 minutes.

Anderson will face a giant of a different kind in the men's final Sunday - either twice champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or three-time victor Novak Djokovic, who posted a picture on social media of himself playing marbles while waiting for Isner and Anderson to finish.

"I don´t know how you can take it playing for so long and coming out the wrong side".

Nadal and Djokovic will clash in a box office Wimbledon semi-final on Friday night, with the victor of the 52nd instalment of their epic rivalry to face either Isner or Anderson in Sunday's championship decider. Both are tall - Isner's 6-foot-10, Anderson 6-foot-8 - and lanky.

There was double disappointment for Isner, who had to endure urine and blood tests after his defeat and apologised for being late for his post-match news conference.

It will resume Saturday at 1 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET), ahead of the women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber.

Isner, the ninth-seeded American and Anderson, the eighth-seeded South African, are both power servers who struggle with their returns.

Anderson, who knocked off reigning Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinal round, will now take on another behemoth of men's tennis in Sunday's championship match.

"I feel pretty awful", Isner said afterward.

Anderson finished with 49 aces and 118 winners; Isner had 53 aces and 129 winners.

In the fifth set, Isner even jokingly asked the umpire if they could just play a tiebreak. "For a lot of people, that's definitely the lasting image of my career", Isner said. My left heel is killing and I have an very bad blister on my right foot.

Ever so slowly, having looked as if he might be swept away, Nadal worked his way back into the argument, and two sublime drop-shots - one sliced from the baseline, the second from short range - helped him to set-point in the tie-break, but he lost control of a backhand and they changed ends at 6-all. Anderson fell to the Serbian in five sets in 2015 at Wimbledon and in three sets in 2011 in London.

But world No.1 broke twice in the second set and fended off more break points to level the match. However, it was still only half as long as the absurd contest between Isner and Mahut.