By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) – It was a case of better late than never as Kevin Anderson reached his first Wimbledon final with a heart-stopping 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24 win over the sport’s perennial marathon man John Isner on Friday.
After being kept on the run for six hours and 36 minutes, the longest ever singles semi-final at the All England Club, how he was still standing was anyone’s guess.
Playing Isner who is enshrined in Wimbledon folklore for winning the “endless match” – an 11 hour five minute humdinger against Nicolas Mahut in 2010 – Anderson needed five nerve-shredding sets to topple the American and become the first South African man to reach the Wimbledon final for 97 years.
A showdown between two tennis skyscrapers – with Isner topping the 6 foot 8 Anderson by two inches – predictably featured three tiebreaks and 102 thunderbolt aces but it was the 32-year-old South African who delivered the knockout blow.
After watching Isner strike a weary forehand wide, Anderson advanced to the Wimbledon final at the 10th time of asking.
The eighth seed will face either twice champion Rafael Nadal or three-times winner Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.
Brian Norton was the last South African man to reach the final in 1921. (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris)