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Kevin Anderson makes tie-break plea after beating Isner to reach Wimbledon final

UK Sport | Published:

Their match was one of the most extraordinary seen at Wimbledon.

Kevin Anderson and John Isner called for a change in the rules after their record-breaking Wimbledon semi-final.

Anderson, the eighth seed, won a gruelling battle of the big servers 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (9/11) 6-4 26-24 in six hours and 36 minutes on Centre Court.

It was the longest semi-final in grand slam history, and the second longest match ever at a major championship.

Isner will not need reminding of the match that beats all others, having taken 11 hours and five minutes to beat Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010.

Three-time winner and BBC summariser John McEnroe said in commentary that fifth-set tie-breaks should be introduced at all grand slams – currently only the US Open incorporates them.

The two combatants agreed. Midway through the deciding set Isner, half-jokingly, half-seriously, asked umpire Marija Cicak if they could just play a tie-break.

Afterwards the American said: “I personally think a sensible option would be 12-12. If one person can’t finish the other off before 12-12 then do a tie-breaker there.

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“I think it’s long overdue. I’m a big part of that, a big part of this discussion, of course.”

Anderson, who had knocked out Roger Federer in another five-set epic two days earlier, is through to a first Wimbledon final but, at the age of 32, such exertions can only have a detrimental effect on his ability to perform on Sunday.

The South African said: “I personally don’t see the reason not to include it now at least at all of the slams. I mean, obviously John’s match in 2010, when it was ridiculous, I feel like a lot of people were talking about it then. Things didn’t change.”

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With the heavyweight showdown between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic scheduled second on Centre Court after the Anderson-Isner match, some of the crowd began to get restless with one spectator yelling during the decider: “Come on guys, we want to see Rafa.”

“It’s also tough being out there, listening to some of the crowd,” added Anderson.

“Hopefully they appreciated the battle that we faced out there against each other, John and myself.

“But if you ask most of them, I’m sure they would have preferred to see a fifth-set tie-break, too. They’ve paid to see two matches, and they came pretty close to only seeing one.”

Nadal and Djokovic eventually got on court at 8.05pm under the lights and roof of Centre Court.

Yet that match, which began the day as the main event, felt like something of an after-thought following Anderson and Isner’s war of attrition.

John Isner's serve is one of the biggest weapons in tennis
John Isner’s serve is one of the biggest weapons in tennis (Ben Curtis/PA)

Moments earlier Anderson had grabbed a vital point despite slipping on the baseline – picking himself up and playing a forehand left-handed which landed just in.

“I had a little opening at 0-15, hit my return and felt like I lost balance, so I just tried to get up,” said Anderson.

“You know, it was obviously not a conscious thought. I just put the racket in my left hand and managed to hit a pretty decent shot. Obviously that ended up being pretty key for me.

“It’s not easy in that setting, at the end. Obviously I’m ecstatic to be through to the final. Yet at the same time you feel like it should be a draw. But somebody has to win.”

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