Anderson stuns Federer in 5 sets, reaches semis

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Updated: July 11, 2018

LONDON — Roger Federer was a point away from a rather tidy, straight-set victory in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. One point.

And then it all came apart for the eight-time champion against an opponent who’d never beaten him before nor made it this far at the All England Club.

In a stunning turnaround in an unfamiliar setting — Court No. 1 instead of Centre Court — the No. 1-seeded Federer blew a match point and, eventually, all of a big lead in a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 loss to No. 8 Kevin Anderson on Wednesday.

“I’m up two sets to one. It’s all good, so …” Federer said of his thoughts after dropping the third set. “At that point I wasn’t thinking of losing.”

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How hard was it to see this coming?

Federer was 4-0 against Anderson entering the day, winning every set they’d ever played against each other. But there was more. So much more. Federer was attempting to reach his 13th semifinal at Wimbledon and move closer to title No. 9, both of which would have broken his own records.

He came into the match having won 32 consecutive sets at Wimbledon, a run he stretched to 34, tying his own record, before faltering. And he had held serve 81 games in a row at the grass-court major, a streak that grew to 85 before Anderson broke him a surprising total of four times.

Federer fell to 266-3 in career Grand Slam matches where he won the first two sets.

“I had moments where I was great … other moments where I don’t know where the hell I was moving to,” Federer said. “I don’t know if that was his serve. But I also have a feeling, it was a feeling of mine, you know, not getting it right.

“It’s just not one of my best days, but they don’t happen very often either. It’s one of those average days you have to try to win the match, and I just couldn’t get it done today. So it’s disappointing.”

Not that Anderson is anything other than an elite tennis player. He was, after all, the runner-up at last year’s US Open.

But he had never made it beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon until this week, carried by his booming serve. He hit 28 aces against Federer, saved nine of 12 break points and managed to hold his own in the rare lengthy baseline rallies.

“I think I had my chances, so it’s disappointing,” Federer said. “… He was consistent. He was solid. He got what he needed when he had to. Credit to him for hanging around really that long.”

As the fifth set became as much a test of mental strength as anything, from 4-all to 6-all to 8-all to 10-all, Anderson was as steady as he needed to be. And it was Federer who blinked, double-faulting to face a break point at 11-all, then slapping a forehand into the net to cede the key break.

Anderson then served it out, ending things with a 128 mph service winner, and raised both arms overhead.

Now the 32-year-old South African moves on to a semifinal against No. 9 John Isner of the U.S. or No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada.

That will be played at Centre Court, of course, a spot Federer knows well. His loss to Anderson was the first match he’d played at No. 1 since 2015.

Novak Djokovic, who successfully petitioned to play on Centre Court after having played three of his opening four matches on other courts, also advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2016 US Open.

The three-time Wimbledon champion shrugged off a second-set slump to beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, wrestling back the momentum for good in the third, coming from 0-40 down at 2-2 to hold serve. He then broke Nishikori in the next game.

Djokovic was broken in the opening game of the fourth set, but won the next four games and broke again to clinch victory.

He looked in control in the first set, but he grew frustrated after failing to capitalize on three straight break points in the third game of the second set and was given a code violation after slamming his racket into the ground.

When Nishikori then bounced his own racket against the court in the fourth set without being given a warning, Djokovic yelled out “double standards” toward the umpire’s chair — drawing boos from the Centre Court crowd.

That didn’t seem to affect his focus, though, and neither did a time violation he was given when serving at 4-2, 30-30 in the fourth set.

Djokovic secured that game with a forehand winner, then saved two game points on Nishikori’s serve before converting his first match point with a forehand down the line.

He next faces two-time champion Rafael Nadal or fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Article source: http://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/24067568/wimbledon-2018-men-quarterfinal-matches