By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon
- Kevin Anderson  def. Roger Federer  2-6 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 13-11
- Reaches his second career Grand Slam semi-final
WIMBLEDON, UK – Kevin Anderson delivered the shock of the tournament on the men’s side as he ousted defending champion Roger Federer in a five set thriller.
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Quite aside for the fact that the AELTC for once decided to put Roger Federer on what he must surely feel is an outside court (No. 1 Court in this instance), the general fear was that if Kevin Anderson could not impose his big serve and forehand combination early, it would be a routine win for Federer.
In fact, the start of match looked like just that as Federer broke at the start, and at the end to wrap up the first set. It was a different story at the start of the second, as Anderson quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but as he was pegged back and edged out of a tie-break it was looking ominous for the rangy South African.
A competitive third set saw Federer finally find a chink in the armour to bring up a first match point, which was saved, only for Anderson to then break and hold to get a set on the board.
With the errors beginning to rack up now from Federer, Anderson took advantage to secure a break and go on to level the match to take Federer into a decider. It would be eight games before the first break-point materialised for Federer, but he could not covert.
From that point on neither player gave an inch as the games passed 6-6 and with no tie-break in the final set, it became sudden death with neither flinching to fend off or attack break points. It was the penultimate game that finally yielded a chance for Anderson to nudge ahead and having saved a match point at the end of the third set, he just needed one of his own to end Roger Federer’s campaign and to mark a massive personal victory for himself.
Having gone from not even knowing he would be facing Federer in the quarter-finals as he finished his fourth-round match, to coming from two sets and a match-point down, the day has been quite the journey for the South African.
He said: “I feel the few times I’ve played him in the past, walked onto the court without the necessary belief that I needed to to get through the match.
“But I changed that phrase and said, what’s happened in the past is in the past. All I need to worry about is today. I felt like I was just trying to keep myself very highly motivated, a lot of belief in myself, said, today is going to be my day.”
It took quite considerable self-belief to come back from facing a match-point.
Anderson continued: “Obviously it came very close to it not being my day. I still think if had I lost that match point, as I said earlier, I made a few steps in the right direction.
“Obviously getting through it, I feel like I can take bigger steps. Especially in the first set when it was really close, I kept on telling myself that, I’m in this match right now. As I said, I felt like today was going to be my day. I was able to keep with that as much as I could. I guess in the end I was right.”
This is the best he has done at Wimbledon but reaching the US Open final last year was a major milestone for Anderson, who had struggled with injury and had to miss the start of 2017 in a year that was beset with injury issues.
He continued: “I think it’s quite different. At US Open, because it was pretty new being in the semis and in the finals, it was a lot of excitement, a lot of emotions. I think going into the finals, there was maybe a bit too much relief that, Hey, I’m in the finals, and didn’t give myself as much of a chance to win that match from a mental side.
“I learned some valuable lessons throughout that tournament because coming in today, obviously being in the quarterfinals here for the first time, I think the way I approached the match was a bit more with expectations that I want to keep going.
“As exciting as it is, I feel like I’m doing a good job of keeping it in perspective. There’s hopefully two more matches still to be played. As of right now, I’m sort of more focused on that than getting too excited about the overall picture.”
The Gentlemen’s Singles semi-finals will take place in Friday.
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