Kevin Anderson won the longest Centre Court match in history and earned a chance to try to collect his first Grand Slam championship, edging John Isner 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 at Wimbledon in a marathon between two big servers that lasted more than 6½ hours yesterday.
The fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as the semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill.
Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty.
Only one match at the All England Club has been longer: Isner’s 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, which went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth. That was played over on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating the record-setter.
Anderson, a 32-year-old from South Africa, eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it’s hard to imagine how the No. 8 seed Anderson will have much left for Sunday’s final, his second at a major.
Anderson was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at last year’s U.S. Open.
There could be a rematch now.
Because it was so late, and with rain forecast, the All-England Club shut the retractable roof above the main stadium before the second semi-final.
The expectation was that the first semifinal would be a tight contest filled with tiebreakers — and that’s precisely what it was.