What an unforgettable match between Kevin Anderson and John Isner in the Wimbledon semi-final on Friday!
Anderson triumphed 26-24 in the final set after an epic that lasted six hours and 35 minutes, but still waits to see who he will face in Sunday’s final.
Novak Djokovic leads Rafael Nadal by two sets to one, but their match was suspended due to a tournament curfew on Friday night.
They will resume their battle at 12pm SA time on Saturday.
But here is a full transcript of Anderson’s post-match press conference…
QUESTION: You said after Roger, you gave yourself a bit more belief this year. Is that what got you through that exhausting match?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I don’t know what got me through today’s match other than just a will to try to succeed, keep pushing myself.
I knew it was going to be a tough match playing John. We’ve played a few times. He’s gotten the better of me in our head-to-heads. I’ve struggled against him in certain areas. Just watching the way he played all week, I thought he was playing great tennis.
Obviously his serve is arguably one of the best of all time. It’s really tough playing him. The match was so even throughout.
I obviously felt I had a few chances in the third set serving for it. Even in that breaker, had a set point, hit a double. He played some great points.
I think one of the reasons for the double was I felt like he was being really aggressive on my serve that forced me to go for a little bit more.
Then once you’re in the fifth set, in those sort of settings, on the court for over six hours, your body, it’s really tough. You just have to try to keep going.
I tried as much as I could to just keep fighting. I take a lot of pride in that. Fortunately, I was able to find a way over the finish line.
QUESTION: Can you explain what went through your head when you fell and managed to pick up your racquet? How did you manage to think to do that?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, at that point you’re just trying to gather some energy to try and, you know, keep pushing yourself.
I felt for most of the fifth set actually, I was maybe a little bit ahead in terms of the ease of me holding serve as opposed to him. I feel like I had a few openings here and there.
By the end, we were obviously both struggling. From his serve, he was down in terms of his velocity coming through. I just tried to put as many balls as possible in the court.
Had another little opening at Love-15, hit my return, felt like I lost balance, just tried to get up. You know, obviously not a conscious thought.
I just put the racquet in my left hand and managed to hit a pretty decent shot. Obviously that ended up being pretty key for me.
QUESTION: Can you describe how close you were to breaking point physically, what it felt like during that fifth set?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, it’s close. You’re really in a war of attrition out there. It’s way beyond a normal tennis match or tactics. I mean, it’s just who’s going to, you know, outlast each other.
It’s pretty tough in the format that we have right now, especially at slams. I mean, it’s not easy in that setting at the end.
I mean, coming through that match, obviously I’m ecstatic to be through to the finals. At the same time, you know, you feel like it should be a draw. But somebody has to win.
I was also behind in the scoreline each time, so it’s a little tougher maybe. But what I did really good each and every time, I reset really well.
I got off to good starts in the beginning of the games. Only a couple times did I have a Love-15 or 15-30.
It’s not easy losing matches, regardless of the scoreline, in this sort of setting, semi-finals at Wimbledon, but especially in those sort of conditions with such a close scoreline.
QUESTION: Post-match you talked about using your left hand, growing up using your left hand.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I just sort of – when the interviewer asked me, gave me a bit of a smile because obviously that was a pretty good point from my standpoint.
I just said when I was younger, I had elbow surgery at a pretty young age. Actually played four or five months just with my left hand.
A lot of guys with two hands can’t hit the ball left-handed.
It was interesting because I hit it pretty well. I was reflecting that I wouldn’t have thought back then that I was going to use a left-handed shot at the semi-finals of Wimbledon at. I don’t know what the score was, whatever it was when I hit it.
QUESTION: What is your normal physical recovery regime? Will it differ in this case? What have you done up to this point?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty unique. I mean, generally speaking, if the match is over two hours, we do, like, an active recovery.
You get on the bike for, say, 10 minutes or so. After that we do a stretch and, like, an active flush. I get into the ice tank. I eat afterwards. Then I come to press.
My physio, he was like, ‘After six hours, you need to spend another 10 minutes on the bike’. I actually went straight into the ice tank, then I did the stretching.
I actually ate before stretching, as well. Obviously trying to get sort of food and nutrition back in my body is a challenge because you definitely don’t feel like eating, but you have to somehow force it down.
Obviously I need a lot of treatment in terms of getting the body back balanced and stuff, but at the same time, obviously sleep is important, too.
QUESTION: What about tomorrow?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, I think we’re going to play it by ear, see how I feel, see how my body reacts in the morning.
My feet are sore, they’re swollen. The legs are pretty jelly-like.
I mean, ideally I’d like to get out and hit for, say, maybe 30 minutes, just keep the eye in, try to keep the same sort of routines that we’ve been having.
But I’ve never played a match this long, so it will be something we’ll have to see how things go tomorrow.
QUESTION: This may be an odd question, but I noticed both in the quarter-finals and today you were wearing black compression shorts. Has anybody at the All England Club, the officials, approached you about that?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, in the beginning the first match or two, I’ve been having sort of a reoccurring hamstring issue over the last 18 months.
My understanding is when there’s a medical device, it is of colour, and these aren’t your normal compression shorts, they are pretty specialised, so that’s why they approved it and allowed me to wear it.
QUESTION: You’ve reached the finals. Talk about this breakthrough, how it happened, what it means to you.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, along the way there’s sort of mini-breakthroughs. In terms of a broad picture, making finals of Grand Slams, there’s obviously a huge breakthrough.
Along the way, there were many small breakthroughs – making top 10 in 2015, beating Andy Murray in the round of 16 at the US Open, almost beating Novak here, being up two sets to love, losing very close in the fifth set.
Then getting injured in 2016 was tough. I mean, I think the biggest thing as I try to sort of say, I don’t feel like there’s massive secrets. I work really hard. I have good goals.
I’m always looking to improve. I’ve got a great team behind me. I have a lot of support. I feel like, as I’ve been saying, some of my best tennis I feel is still ahead of me.
Maybe there’s a middle ground that we can include a tie-break at maybe, say, 12-all. I think that’s a fair balance.
If a match is 12-all in the fifth set, I don’t think it needs to continue. The amount of times it gets to that point is pretty rare. I think it protects the players’ health as well.
Because being out there for this length can be pretty damaging from a health standpoint, too.
QUESTION: What does it mean to you to fly the flag for South Africa in a Wimbledon final?
KEVIN ANDERSON: It feels great. Obviously there was a whole lot that happened today in terms of the length of the match.
At the end of the day, I’ve put myself into the finals of Wimbledon, which is half of a dream come true.
I mean really, most people would say it’s the biggest tournament we have. It’s very special.
Growing up in South Africa, we had kind of sort of limited access to available tournaments. Wimbledon was the most iconic event. So to be here in the finals, it’s amazing. I’ve had so much support from home.
As I said after my previous match, I really hope that it’s a source of inspiration for kids, just interest in tennis.
South Africa does have a strong tennis history. We struggled over the last sort of decade or so. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of time.
But I hope maybe somebody sits here in 10, 15 years’ time and somebody asks him a question, and he says he watched me playing Wimbledon, that’s one of the reasons he’s here.
That would definitely be great for me to hear.
QUESTION: All of the semi-finalists are in their 30s. Does it speak to the evolution of training and nutrition? Do you think that will become a trend?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, obviously it will be impossible to predict.
Definitely right now, if you look at all the guys in their 30s, I think everybody is incredibly motivated. That’s step number one.
I think a while ago, if you looked at some of the guys reaching 30, they have been on tour for a while.
I think their interest and motivation to keep pushing their bodies, keep training, keep travelling the world naturally just gets a little bit less.
There’s been a resurgence where people don’t feel that way. I think when you see one person doing it, it changes the perspective and the mindset as well.
Seeing Roger (Federer) at 37 having the results he’s had, the success, what he’s still striving for, makes me feel at 32 that I’ve got a lot of years in front of me.