There have been plenty of fantastic matches at Wimbledon over the years but you have to go a long way to beat this year’s two men’s semi-finals. Both matches ebbed and flowed over more than 12 hours and ten sets of tennis, and after all the drama it’s Kevin Anderson and Novak Djokovic that will face off in the final.
Keep reading for your 2018 Wimbledon men’s singles final preview.
Anderson comes through epic to reach first Wimbledon final
It’s highly unlikely that any tennis match will end up being longer than John Isner’s mammoth epic against Nicolas Mahut in 2010, but the American has now featured in the two longest Grand Slam matches of all time.
Isner’s match with Kevin Anderson ran for more than six and a half hours on Friday, and the final set took almost three hours as the players shared an incredible 50 games. Eventually, it was the 8th seed who prevailed, becoming the first South African to reach a Wimbledon final since Brian Norton in 1921.
Anderson’s achievement is all the more impressive considering he came from two sets and match point down to beat defending champion Roger Federer in the quarter-final. It has been an absolutely epic performance from the tall 32-year-old who is into his second Grand Slam final in less than a year.
After his win, Anderson told the BBC: “You feel like it is a draw, but someone has to win. John is a great guy and I feel for him. If I was on the opposite side, I don’t know how you take it – getting through something like that is quite different.
“I have known John for such a long time, he is a great guy. To be honest he has pushed me through my career and had a great one himself. I have pushed myself harder because of the success he has had.”
Djokovic looking for first Grand Slam title since 2016
The length of the first semi-final meant that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had to wait until after 8pm in the evening to get their match under way. And, considering how closely matched the two players are, it took until mid-Saturday afternoon for the Serb to come through another epic five-set encounter, eventually winning 10-8 in the final set.
It’s Djokovic’s first Grand Slam final since 2016 and it’s been a tricky couple of years for the former world number one. Injury problems and personal issues meant he came into the tournament as the 12th seed, but he’s been in excellent form across the fortnight beating the likes of Kyle Edmund, Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov on the way to the final.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion was clearly delighted to be in a fifth Wimbledon final. He said: “I’m just overwhelmed. It’s very special. It was very clear that very few things separated us. This kind of match is what you live for, you work for.”
Former world number one can win 13th Grand Slam title
In the immediate aftermath of Anderson’s win is was hard to see how the South African could have any chance in the final considering the amount of energy he’d exerted in his semi-final win. However, Djokovic’s five-hour win and the fact he was still on court on Saturday afternoon may have levelled up the match in terms of fatigue.
The Serb has won the last five meetings between the pair including two wins on grass at Wimbledon. Djokovic came from two sets down to beat Anderson in the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2015 although you can argue the pair are more closely matched now than three years ago.
Much will depend on how Anderson’s fitness holds out after his two recent matches and for that reason Djokovic can win his 13th Grand Slam title at 2/11.
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Also published on Medium.