Wimbledon, July 12 (IANS) South Africa’s Kevin Anderson pulled off a stunning come-from-behind 2-6, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 upset victory over Swiss defending champion Roger Federer here on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the Wimbledon tennis championships for the first time.
Anderson pulled off the upset thanks to 28 aces and clutch play on break points throughout the match. He also appeared to benefit from the lack of a tiebreaker in the fifth set, as the 36-year-old Swiss wore down over the course of the four-hour-plus contest, reports Efe.
The match had all the makings of a routine Federer victory after the first set, which the Swiss great won with two service breaks and the loss of just one point on his serve.
But Anderson worked his way into the match in the second set, which he narrowly lost in a tiebreaker after the two players had traded service breaks.
The turning point came late in the third set. Anderson, after saving a match point on his serve in the 10th game, broke Federer’s serve in the ensuing game and then clinched the set with a final service hold.
One service break in the seventh game of the fourth set was then all Anderson would need to force a decider.
As the match wore on, the 36-year-old Federer seemed physically depleted, while the 2.03-meter (6-foot-8) Anderson kept recording one service hold after another until finally getting a crucial service break in the 23rd game of the fifth set.
He then finished off the win one game later when Federer was unable to return one last big serve off the South African’s racquet.
“I guess there was definitely a moment (where I lost control of the match) at some point,” Federer was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour’s Web site. “Is it missing match points? Is it getting broken at 5-All after that?”
“I’m not sure … There’s a lot of little points here and there that always make a difference in the outcome of a match.”
With the loss, Federer missed out on the chance to add to his record haul of Wimbledon (eight) and Grand Slam (20) men’s singles titles.
Anderson will next square off in Friday’s semi-finals against another of tennis’ biggest servers: either American John Isner or Canada’s Milos Raonic.
Meanwhile, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in a quarter-final victory that puts him in the final four of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in nearly two years.
The Japanese player’s poor winning percentage on first-serve points was the key factor in the match.
Over the final two sets, the No. 24 seed won just 16 of his 35 points when putting his first serve in play, a recipe for disaster against one of the most accomplished players in tennis history.
Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champion, will next take on the winner of a quarter-final match pitting Spanish No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal against fifth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.
The Serbian, who came down from his pedestal as men’s tennis’ dominant No. 1 player due in part to a serious elbow injury and is currently ranked No. 21, has made strides toward his best level over the past two months.
He last reached the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament in September 2016 at the US Open, where he advanced to the final before losing to Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka.