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Anderson reaches Wimbledon final after marathon fifth set

14 July 2018

Andrew Boyers / Reuters Anderson in action during his semi-final match against John Isner.

Anderson overcame a one-set deficit and outlasted Isner over the course six hours and 36 minutes, capturing the bout 7-6 (7), 6-7 (6), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24. That one took three days to complete and officially lasted 11 hours 5 minutes.

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Serbian Novak Djokovic and Spaniard Rafael Nadal were forced to wait in the wings for hours as the action unfolded.

He stands at 0-5 with Nadal and 1-5 against Djokovic.

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. Anderson's win over John Isner lasted 6 ½ hours and went to 26-24 in the fifth set. "Just disappointed to lose".

"It's pretty tough in the format that we have right now".

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At least Anderson can boast of one runner-up finish, and it was recent, against Nadal at last year's U.S. Open.

"At that stage, you're just trying to fight in every single moment", he said. Anderson may not be the most mobile, but he does cover the court better than Isner and his backhand is generally rock solid.

The reason the match went on for so long comes down to one of Wimbledon's quirks - a five-set match can not end on a tiebreaker, a tradition shared at the French Open and the Australian Open. "Can't finish them off, if one person can't finish the other off before 12-All, then do a tiebreaker there", Isner said. "We want to see Rafa!"

The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at IL. In the pros, Isner had won 8 of 11 previous matchups.

There was not a ton of intrigue or momentum shifts, not a whole lot of memorable shotmaking, either, save for some impressive return winners. The serving, though, was something else.

As member of the ATP players' Council, the opinions of Anderson and Isner carry significant weight.

Having served 284 aces between them to reach their first Wimbledon semifinal and first and second in aces on tour this year, not many service breaks were expected in the 12th duel between Anderson and Isner.

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Both failed to seize early opportunities. Anderson then took the fourth set 6-4, breaking the Isner serve twice in the set. The American roared and turned to his box as he took the third set on his third set point.

By the end, he was looking exhausted, leaning over to rest a hand on a knee between points.

"I feel like I'm doing a good job of keeping it in perspective". "My left heel is killing me and I have an terrible blister on my right foot".

"I personally don't see the added value or benefit compared to, say, at the US Open where we're playing tie-breaks in the fifth set".

Many would argue Anderson and Isner deserve similar recognition after the great mates warmly embraced at the net before receiving a standing ovation from tennis's most famous centre-court crowd.

Anderson's prize for his bittersweet victory over his former USA college friend and rival is a date on Sunday with either world number one Rafael Nadal or fellow grand slam giant Novak Djokovic.

Soon, they were meeting for an embrace.

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Anderson reaches Wimbledon final after marathon fifth set