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Rediff.com  » Sports » Djokovic ahead of Nadal after Anderson's epic semi-final win

Djokovic ahead of Nadal after Anderson's epic semi-final win

Last updated on: July 14, 2018 04:16 IST

Novak Djokovic will return on Saturday two sets to one ahead against Rafael Nadal in the second semi-final at Wimbledon

IMAGE: Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns during his Wimbledon semi-final against Spain's Rafael Nadal on Friday. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Novak Djokovic clawed his way to a two sets to one lead over great rival Rafael Nadal before their scintillating Wimbledon semi-final was paused on a knife-edge on Friday.

 

With the clock slipping past 11 pm -- the official curfew for action at the All England Club -- Djokovic survived two set points in a gripping tie-break to edge ahead.

IMAGE: Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his semi-final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Battle will resume on Saturday with the Serb leading 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9) and needing one more set to book a Sunday showdown with South African eighth seed Kevin Anderson.

Anderson earlier won the longest-ever Wimbledon semi-final in a test of endurance with American John Isner that finished 26-24 in the fifth set after six hours and 36 minutes. 

It was that kind of ingeniousness that was needed to break the serve-hold-serve-hold deadlock that went on for almost three hours in the deciding set alone as Anderson became the first South African man in 97 years to reach the Wimbledon final.

IMAGE: South Africa’s Kevin Anderson hugs John Isner of the United States after their men's singles semi-final. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

History books will show that Anderson came out on top in a 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24 epic, but those numbers fail to illustrate the astonishing feats of endurance shown by the two gladiators on the most famous stage in tennis.

The match featured 102 thunderbolt aces, 264 unreturned serves and 247 bone-rattling winners, but none of those will stand out as much as the heart and desire of the two combatants as both tried to reach to a first Wimbledon final.

When Isner finally slapped a weary forehand wide at 7.46 pm local time, there were no wild roars, no fist pumping and no raised arms in celebration from Anderson.

All the 32-year-old had left in him was to give Isner a sympathetic hug after he came out on top in the second-longest match ever contested at the All England Club.

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