Kevin Anderson is through to his first Wimbledon final after surviving a preposterous marathon of a match against John Isner on Friday.
Anderson prevailed by a score of 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 in six hours and 35 minutes, the second-longest Grand Slam match ever and the longest semifinal match in Wimbledon history.
The only Slam match that went on longer was Isner’s famed 11-hour, five-minute first-round match against Nicolas Mahut in 2010, which Isner won with a 70-68 fifth set.
It was an astounding display of endurance from both players – for whom endurance has never exactly been a calling card – but particularly so for Anderson, who held up better in the end, despite coming in on the heels of a five-set quarterfinal in which he came back from two sets down and won the final set 13-11 against Roger freaking Federer.
The final stats look like misprints. Anderson finished with 49 aces and 118 winners to just 24 unforced errors. Isner bombed 53 aces and 129 winners, but was a bit more error-prone, with 59.
Anderson did not face a break point in the fifth set, and after a handful of return games in which he threatened to crack an increasingly gassed Isner, he finally clinched the break, on his sixth chance, in the 49th game, with the help of an absurd point in which he had to hit a lefty forehand after falling over. He promptly served things out, and didn’t so much celebrate his victory as he tried to keep from collapsing.
In his post-match interview, he suggested it might be time to implement a fifth-set tiebreaker at Wimbledon.
The 32-year-old, who had never been past the quarterfinals at a major as recently as 10 months ago, has now reached the finals at two of the last four Slams.