LONDON - Kevin Anderson told South African youngsters to "stick to their dreams" and follow in his footsteps after he knocked Roger Federer out of Wimbledon on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Anderson came back from two sets to love down and saved a match point to stun the eight-time champion 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11. Anderson became the first South African in the Wimbledon semi-finals since Kevin Curren in 1983 and just the sixth in history.
"Yeah, already gotten tons of messages from support back home," said eighth seed Anderson.
"Obviously at this sort of event, playing against an opponent like Roger is going to have a lot of coverage.
"I really hope it's an example of sticking to your dreams and keep believing in yourself. I always say I was in the same position, it's not easy coming from South Africa, it's very far from the tennis scene."
Anderson is getting used to breaking barriers.
When he finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the US Open last year, he was the first South African man in a Slam final since Curren at the 1984 Australian Open.
He was also the oldest first-time finalist at a major since Niki Pilic at the 1973 French Open.
It has been a hard road for Anderson whose ranking slumped to 67 at the end of 2016 as he battled a serious knee injury.
But he has been fairly solid at the Slams ever since, making at least the last-16 at all the majors - with the exception of a first round blip at the Australian Open this year.
"I think I was sort of on the border of actually going on to Australia (in 2017). I decided not to go. I think in hindsight that was a great decision," he recalled.
"That was something I learned from 2016 where I constantly tried to get back into competition too quickly. It just took me a little bit of time to find sort of my legs in the competitive atmosphere. I feel that sort of started to change towards the end of the clay court season last year."
"There are moments that you rise to the occasion, and I didn’t. It just happened that today wasn’t the day."— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 11, 2018
After 11 #Wimbledon match wins in a row, we bid farewell to our eight-time champion - until next year, @rogerfederer. pic.twitter.com/gullVyRGeh
Even though he was two sets down and facing match point on Wednesday, Anderson insisted he never gave up hope.
That took great self-belief, he added, knowing that he had never taken a set off 20-time major winner Federer in four previous meetings.
"I just said, I'm down two sets to love, let me keep fighting. I felt I was playing better tennis, so that was motivating for me as well to keep at it," said Florida-based Anderson, who is applying for US citizenship.
"Facing off that match point, then getting a break the next minute, I'm like, I've got the third set in the bag.
"I was actually playing really high-quality tennis, having a few sniffs on his serve, almost felt my mind wondering, Well, maybe I can do this."
Next up for Anderson is a semi-final on Friday against John Isner, the ninth seeded American. Anderson trails Isner 3-8 in career meetings.AFP