In the Wimbledon semifinals on Friday, Kevin Anderson and John Isner held serve again, and again, and again, and again. Playing a match that looked like it might never end, it just had be something special that would make the difference.
Anderson would create that turning moment when he resorted to using his non-dominant hand to win a point after tumbling to the grass.
In the middle of a 6-hour match, Kevin Anderson fell down and switched hands on a return ???? pic.twitter.com/dfL3uJ7R2F— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2018
The drama came at 24-24, 0-15 in the fifth set with both players looking delirious as the match time neared six-and-a-half hours.
"Had another little opening at Love-15, hit my return, felt like I lost balance, just tried to get up. Obviously not a conscious thought," Anderson said. "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."
The lefty shot would prove critical as Anderson would win that game to break Isner and then serve out the match.
Anderson (????Eurosport) pic.twitter.com/EpcTjemjMI— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) July 13, 2018
Anderson has dealt with many injuries throughout his career, and explained that when he underwent right wrist surgery, he practiced left-handed instead. Who knew that his dedication back then would pay off at such a critical moment in his career?
The 32-year-old South African advanced to the final after an official time of 6 hours and 36 minutes and a score of 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24.
"Anderson vs Isner, a Wimbledon classic - you better believe it"— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 13, 2018
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
It was sheer madness as the second semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had to start under the roof, with a possibility of not finishing the match on Friday turning into reality when play was stopped mid-match. They'll resume on Saturday with Djokovic up two sets to one.
The nearly endless semifinal saga had many arguing for a deciding set tiebreak, from ESPN commentator John McEnroe to Anderson himself.
"I hope this is a bit of sign for Grand Slams to change this format," Anderson said. "At the end, you don't even feel that great out there."
In the fifth set, Isner even jokingly asked the umpire if they could just play a tiebreak.
"I personally think a sensible option would be 12-All. Can't finish them off, if one person can't finish the other off before 12-All, then do a tiebreaker there," Isner said. "I think it's long overdue."
Isner is now officially part of two of the longest matches in Wimbledon history (he won an 11-hour, two-day epic over Nicolas Mahut back in 2010).
"That's no consolation to me. It's not," Isner said. "I'm not going to hang my hat on that, for sure. It's more just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final, and it didn't happen."
Assuming Anderson is able to walk and raise his serving arm, Sunday will make his second major final appearance after the 2017 US Open, when he lost in straight sets to Nadal.
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Strokes of Genius is a world-class documentary capturing the historic 13-year rivalry between tennis icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is timed for release as the anticipation crests with Roger as returning champion, 10 years after their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship – an epic match so close and so reflective of their competitive balance that, in the end, the true winner was the sport itself.