Monday, 23 July, 2018

Wimbledon: Kevin Anderson v John Isner no classic

John Isner at Wimbledon GETTYJohn Isner is into a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time in his career
Frederick Owens | 14 July, 2018, 06:00

Three-time Wimbledon victor Djokovic has been waiting all day to step on to Centre Court for the other semi-final against Rafael Nadal, the match where the majority of fans would have exclusively got tickets for - they might not get to see that match now.

A match which has gone down in the record books as the longest Grand Slam final, lasting five hours and 53 minutes - and finishing at 1.37am - before Djokovic prevailed.

Instead, the two players - and a disappointed audience - were sent home after the third set on Friday with Djokovic leading 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) following a tense tiebreaker that had more entertaining rallies than some entire matches.

Fast food chain Nandos, which originated from South Africa, has pledged to give away free meals to people who share names with the two players, until Anderson is knocked out of the tournament or wins the final. Anderson, an ex-Illini who reached last year's U.S. Open final where he lost to Rafael Nadal, has never won a major.

To say it was a close match would be drastically underselling what took place between the two players, whose history against one another dates back to their college days when Isner played at Georgia and Anderson played at IL.

The marathon tie meant that the Nadal versus Djokovic semi-final was to be played under the roof as the light began to fade just after 8pm.

That was played over on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating the record-setter.

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He added: "It's a bit of a sign for the Grand Slams to change this five-set format".

Anderson became the first South African male to reach the final since 1921 with a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory on Centre Court.

Djokovic is looking to deny French Open champion Nadal the chance to claim back-to-back titles in Paris and London for the third time in his career.

It wasn't so much the shot that the fans particularly loved though, it was Isner's actions following the victor. Djokovic did beat Nadal in the 2011 final at Wimbledon.

It led to the unusual situation of both players leaving the court to a huge ovation - and applauding the fans in return - but without there being a clear victor or loser.

"I really do. I think with the performances I've had, I deserve to be in the semifinals", Djokovic said.

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