Tennis fans knew the Wimbledon semi-final between Kevin Anderson and John Isner might not be a short encounter, but surely they didn't expect it to last this long. "Just playing like that, in those conditions, was really tough on both of us at the end, you know".
How do you sum up Kevin Anderson and John Isner's Wimbledon semi-final?
Anderson will need to continue waiting to find out his next opponent, as Friday's later semifinal between second-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal and 12th-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic was suspended after three sets due to darkness. Nadal won the match 5-7, 7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6 in 4hr 47min.
Although the All England Club has a retractable roof with lights, in the past it has stopped play for the day at 11 p.m. local time in order not to disturb its residential neighbors in southwest London.
Anderson's prize for his bittersweet victory over his former U.S. college friend and rival is a date on Sunday with either world No.1 Rafael Nadal or fellow grand slam giant Novak Djokovic.
He lost last year's US Open final to Rafael Nadal in straight sets.
The semi-final was deep into the fifth set when the new record was set, although it was a long way behind the 11 hours and 5 minutes it took Isner to beat Nicolas Mahut in the 2010 first round. Mathieu won 18-16 in the fifth set of a match that last five hours and 41 minutes. "For a lot of people, that's definitely the lasting image of my career", Isner said.
"We've been lined up against each other for about 14 years now, because he left IL when I left Georgia. I'm sort of more focused on that than getting too excited about the overall picture".
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To say it was a close match would be drastically underselling what took place between the two players, whose history against one another dates back to their college days when Isner played at Georgia and Anderson played at IL.
Isner also took part in the longest match - period, no caveats - in tennis history, which, astoundingly, almost doubled the duration of Friday's contest. "I think I can keep doing damage here". The victor of the match will face off against the victor of John Isner and Kevin Anderson.
Anderson's fifth set alone lasted almost 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill.
After 6ft 8in Anderson edged the opening tie-break he eked out another break point in the second set, but once again Isner repelled it and this time the tie-break went the way of the American.
Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum. Isner also served the most number of aces among any player at 214, while Anderson is second with 172 in a single Wimbledon tournament. He defeated Roger Federer 13-11 in the decider of their quarterfinal match Wednesday. "We want to see Rafa!" Both are tall - Isner's 6-foot-10, Anderson 6-foot-8 - and lanky. He made it 0-30 in that game by winning a point after falling on his back behind the baseline but still got up in time to return Isner's shot.
Isner finished the tournament with a record 221 aces.
One spectator called out, "Come on, guys!" Two points later, Anderson had the vital break to lead 25-24 before serving out the match.