OLI SCARFF/Getty Images
Roger Federer blew a two-set lead to be sent packing from 2018 Wimbledon by Kevin Anderson on Wednesday. Anderson will face John Isner, who reached the semi-final by besting Milos Raonic on No. 1 Court.
Defending champion Federer was eliminated on the same day 2015 winner Novak Djokovic reached the semi-finals after beating Kei Nishikori after four sets. Djokovic will play Rafael Nadal in the last four on Friday, thanks to the latter surviving Juan Martin del Potro in five sets.
- (12) Novak Djokovic bt. (24) Kei Nishikori: 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
- (8) Kevin Anderson bt. (1) Roger Federer: 2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11
- (9) John Isner bt. (13) Milos Raonic: 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-3
- (2) Rafael Nadal bt. (5) Juan Martin del Potro: 7-5, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Everything appeared to be going to plan when Federer eased into a two-set advantage. However, Anderson slugged his way to a strong revival, leaning on a powerful serve to even the match and heighten the spectacle:
BBC Tennis @bbctennis
No one is budging.
Federer 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 4-6 3-3 Anderson
#bbctennis #Wimbledon https://t.co/GONXn9JPg9
Tension was justified since Anderson was edging closer to achieving a rare feat at this level:
Only once before has Roger Federer lost from two sets up at #Wimbledon
Could Kevin Anderson pull off the comeback? https://t.co/pH3t16VSp9
Federer was rattled, but the credit belonged to Anderson, who had disrupted his illustrious opponents’ serve. The 32-year-old took apart Federer’s strong suit with a varied range of shots, per the ATP World Tour official website: “The South African mixed power and precision, especially on his forehand side, to extract errors from Federer, who was forced to retreat behind the baseline.”
Anderson rescued match point in the third set to turn the screw on Federer:
The thin line between victory and defeat.
Until today, Roger Federer had never lost at #Wimbledon having held match point… https://t.co/GXtjW8Dkr7
The latter had begun to look rattled by Anderson’s revival:
David Law @DavidLawTennis
This is a strangely listless, unsettled, out-of-touch Roger Federer suddenly.
Kevin Anderson doing a fair bit to make it worse for him. 2 sets all. 4-3. Federer serving his way out of trouble from 0-30. Fighting, fighting, fighting.
So it proved, as Anderson served his way into a commanding lead during the fifth. He had done enough to leave the eight-time winner stunned and condemned to a shock exit.
Djokovic was too much for Nishikori, despite dropping the second set. The blip couldn’t slow Djokovic’s momentum, as the 31-year-old eased into cruise control in the third.
Before then, both players had showcased their skills during this impressive rally:
BBC Tennis @bbctennis
Is this rally between Djokovic and Nishikori one of the best we’ve seen at Wimbledon so far?
#bbctennis #wimbledon https://t.co/kc3nUBj25E
Eventually though, Djokovic pulled away with emphatic wins in both the third and fourth sets. In the process, the former World No. 1 continued his turnaround in form:
Tennis Channel @TennisChannel
NOVAK IS BACK.
✔️ First Major semifinal since 2016.
✔️ First Wimbledon semifinal since 2015.
@DjokerNole defeats Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the last four.
Next it was Nadal’s turn to engage in a marathon match when he outlasted Del Potro on Centre Court. The first two sets were close, offering a precursor of what was to come.
Del Potro had taken the second on a tiebreak, but made easier work of the third, prompting Nadal to stage his own comeback. He took the fourth set to necessitate a decider which would prove to be dramatic and taxing for both players.
The numerous rallies between the two showed each man was giving his all amid obvious respect for the other:
Simon Cambers @scambers73
Reckon Nadal will have earned his bear hug from Delpo if he can finish this off
Eventually, Nadal took the set and the match on serve, despite numerous attempts from Del Potro to force another break. In the end, a decisive backhand at the net proved enough as Del Potro finally wilted under the effort:
What. A. Match.
He had to work for it, but @RafaelNadal is into the #Wimbledon semi-finals…
…with Novak Djokovic up next https://t.co/vdtWSuI3Hi
Afterwards, Nadal expressed his relief at reaching the last four again:
“It was a very emotional match – to be back in the semi-finals here at Wimbledon, it is an amazing feeling”
Nadal and Djokovic will be the semi-final with the most attention, but Isner’s match with Anderson could be an instant classic, based on the way the former sauntered into the last four.
Big-serving Isner never looked back after dropping the opening set against a shrewd Raonic. Instead, Isner overpowered the 13th seed, reeling off three sets in a row to put himself in a maiden semi-final at the All England club:
Semi-finals sealed with a winner
@JohnIsner will face Kevin Anderson in the last four of #Wimbledon https://t.co/1aGgrXkLsn
It’s all new for Isner, but Nadal and Djokovic are old hands at this stage. An 18th Grand Slam title is in Nadal’s mind, but Djokovic is beginning to show the form that once made him the ATP’s dominant force.