South Africa’s tennis gladiator Kevin Anderson was so tired after a six-hour 35-minute marathon against John Isner that he was barely able to enjoy the finest moment of his career – reaching the Wimbledon final.
And that is why despite beating Isner in the semi-final 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 26-24 in a spellbinding game of tennis on Friday, Anderson called for a review of Grand Slam rules that doesn’t permit a tie-break in the fifth set.
It took all of 110 service games for Isner, 33, to be broken at this year’s event, but even that was not enough as the 32-year-old Anderson went down two sets to one initially, and fought back by winning the fourth set 6-4.
But while both men are big servers, nobody could’ve expected the final set to reach 50 games, as Anderson eventually broke to take a 25-24 advantage and was able to close things out.
He will face the winner of the second semi-final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, which began a short while ago, in Sunday’s final.
“It’s tough, I really don’t know. I will just try to do the same protocols. Honestly, I really hope that this is a bit of a sign for Grand Slams to change this format of five sets,” a visibly drained Anderson said in a post-match TV interview.
“For us to be out there this length of time – I mean, not just on us, but coming back trying to compete at this sort of stage, going through this – it’s happened to John before, when he’s played another five hours.
“I really hope we can look at it and address this, because at the end, you don’t even feel that great out there. I don’t really know what to say right now. I mean, just playing like that, in those sort of conditions... it’s really tough on both of us.
“You feel like it’s a draw between the two of us, but somebody has to win. John’s such a great guy, and I really feel for him.
"Anderson vs Isner, a Wimbledon classic - you better believe it"
A Centre Court epic ends with @KAndersonATP going through to the #Wimbledon final, beating John Isner 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24 pic.twitter.com/Fv4ww2cEzK
“If I had been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming out short.
“So, I apologise if I’m not more excited right now... so many mixed emotions in getting through something like that.”
But the enormity of his achievement eventually started to sink in, as he emulated his feat at last year’s US Open, where he made it to the championship match – only to lose to Nadal.
“At the same time, I’m through to the finals – wow, what can I say about that! I’m definitely going to recover as much as I can to try and be as ready and fresh as possible,” Anderson said.
“Either Nadal or Djokovic – neither needs any introduction. I think it will take a long time to process everything that has happened today, but I do know that I’m into the finals of Wimbledon, and that’s really part of a dream come true.”