There were two five-set epics at SW19 on Wednesday. In one, Roger Federer couldn’t stop Kevin Anderson becoming the first South African to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time. In the other, Rafael Nadal displayed his trademark resilience to prevail against a spirited Juan Martin del Potro. In doing so, the Spaniard has set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic, who defeated Kei Nishikori in four sets.
The big stories
Federer’s shock defeat to Anderson
Defending champion Federer lost a Court One thriller, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 as 32-year-old Anderson became the first South African in the Wimbledon semi-finals since Kevin Curren in 1983.
“Down two sets to love I tried my best to keep fighting. Beating Roger Federer here at Wimbledon will be one I remember, especially in such a close match,” Anderson said.
“I kept telling myself to keep believing. I said today is going to be my day.”
In a nail-biting four hour and 13 minute classic, it was 36-year-old Federer’s earliest exit at the All England Club since his shock second round defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013.
Nadal downs Del Potro in five sets
Nadal saw off Del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 after four hours and 48 minutes on Centre Court to reach his sixth Wimbledon semi-final and 28th at the majors.
Victory on Wednesday gave Nadal his 11th win in 16 meetings against the fifth seed Del Potro as the Spaniard stayed on course for an 18th Grand Slam title.
“I think it was great quality tennis and in the final set there were some amazing points,” said 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal.
“Sorry to Juan Martin, he’s an amazing opponent and player. In some ways he deserves to win as well.
Djokovic battles past Nishikori
Three-time champion Djokovic, meanwhile, reached his first semi-final at the majors in more than two years by seeing off Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Djokovic, who leads his epic head-to-head rivalry with Nadal 26-25, reached his eighth Wimbledon semi-final and 32nd at the majors after a stormy Centre Court clash against Nishikori.
It will be the 31-year-old Serb’s first semi-final at a Slam since the 2016 French Open when he completed the career Grand Slam.
Shot of the day
“Hurry up, I want to watch the football.”
– Fan on Court One as Roger Federer and Kevin Anderson were locked at 8-8 in the final set of their epic.
“I didn’t see it coming.”
– Federer on his shock five-set defeat
“I really hope it’s an example of sticking to your dreams and keep believing in yourself.”
– Kevin Anderson on beating Federer
“Do you think I ruined the court?”
– Novak Djokovic to umpire Carlos Ramos after being handed code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct for smashing his racquet into the ground against Kei Nishikori
“Sorry to Juan Martin, he’s an amazing opponent and player. In some ways he deserves to win as well.”
– Rafael Nadal after his semi-final win over Del Potro
“When I fell at the end, I wanted to stay down on the ground all night.”
– Del Potro
(With inputs from AFP)