David Vincent/Associated Press
The 52nd career meeting between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will headline the men’s semifinals at the 2018 Wimbledon Championships on Friday.
American John Isner will make his first appearance in the penultimate round of a major when he takes on Kevin Anderson in the other battle for a spot in the championship match.
Let’s check out all of the important details for Day 11 of the tournament. That’s followed by a preview and prediction for each of the matches.
Men’s Semifinal U.S. Viewing Information
Where: All England Club in London
When: Friday, July 13, at 8 a.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
(2) Rafael Nadal vs. (12) Novak Djokovic
The friendly rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic has been remarkably even over the years. A victory by the No. 2 seed Friday would level their head-to-head series at 52 wins apiece.
The biggest question for Nadal is how much he can recover following a hard-fought, five-set victory over Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals. In typical fashion, the 32-year-old Spaniard kept grinding after falling behind two sets to one and eventually wore down the powerful Argentine.
Reem Abulleil of Sport360 highlighted the challenge that lies ahead:
Reem Abulleil @ReemAbulleil
After a 4hr 47min five-set battle against Del Potro, Nadal has to go out on Friday and do it all over again against Djokovic. #wimbledon
Meanwhile, Djokovic is making his first Grand Slam semifinal appearance since the 2016 U.S. Open. He’s struggled to maintain top form in recent years due to injuries and saw his play drop off for a while against Kei Nishikori in the quarters, but this is the best tennis he’s played this year.
Nadal understands the challenge his semifinal foe presents, which comes as no surprise considering how many times he’s stared at the Serb across the net over the past decade.
“It’s always a big challenge to face Novak,” Nadal said, per George Bellshaw of Metro. “He’s one of the most complex players I’ve seen in our sport. You can’t win against him if you don’t play very well. My goal is to play very well.”
The first set may very well prove the most important. If Djokovic takes it, the challenge for what will likely be an already fatigued Nadal becomes exponentially more difficult.
But the 2018 French Open champion is on a roll and will likely continue that into the Wimbledon final.
Pick: Nadal in four sets
(8) Kevin Anderson vs. (9) John Isner
Tennis fans looking for extended rallies better watch Djokovic take on Nadal. However, when Anderson and Isner face off, there will be plenty of aces and quick points. It’s going to create a small margin for error for both players, which should create a different kind of drama than the other semi. Every break point will be paramount.
Anderson is coming off a stunning comeback to eliminate eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. After dropping the first two sets, he stormed back to level the match and eventually outlasted the top seed with a 13-11 triumph in the final set.
The 2017 U.S. Open semifinalist said the crucial thing is coming down from the high of beating Federer in order to focus on the task still at hand.
“As exciting as it is, I feel like I’m doing a good job of keeping it in perspective,” Anderson told reporters. “There’s hopefully two more matches still to be played. I’m more focused on that than getting too excited about the overall picture.”
Although Isner has always featured one of the ATP Tour’s top serves and a wicked forehand, his lack of other weapons, especially defensively, has caused him to struggle in the sport’s biggest stages. He’d only reached one quarterfinal before this year’s Wimbledon (2011 U.S. Open).
Jason Butt of the Telegraph noted the clashes between the University of Georgia product and Anderson go back more than a decade:
Jason Butt @JasonHButt
11 years ago John Isner (Georgia) beat Kevin Anderson (Illinois) in the 2007 NCAA team final 6-1, 7-6 (1)(Georgia also won the ‘ship that year). Both have enjoyed lengthy pro careers and will meet again in the 2018 Wimbledon semifinals.
All told, this match is a true tossup and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it extends deep into the fifth set before a winner emerges. The longer it goes, the more Isner should benefit since Anderson is fresh off needing a 24-game final set to beat Federer.
Pick: Isner in five sets