Live: Isner vs. Anderson
ATPWorldTour.com breaks down the first semi-final at the All England Club
Ninth-seeded American John Isner, competing in his first Grand Slam championship semi-final, leads eighth seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 7-6(9) after three hours of play at The Championships on Friday. In a dramatic third set tie-break, Isner saved two set points at 7/8 and 8/9.
Isner, a University of Georgia graduate, leads his former college rival Anderson 8-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including victories in their past four meetings. Eleven years ago, Isner beat Anderson, who was at the University of Illinois, at the No. 1 singles spot in the NCAA Finals. Anderson has not beaten Isner at a tour-level event since February 2012 at the Delray Beach Open.
The winner will play World No. 1 and two-time former champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or Serbian No. 12 seed and three-time former winner Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final at the All England Club, Wimbledon.
Isner was at his aggressive best in the early stages and came close to capitalising on Anderson’s tendency to hit his serve to Isner’s forehand. Anderson also got himself into trouble by dropping his backhands, which provided his opponent a way back into the point. Isner’s best opportunity to break came on his third of three break points at 1-1, when he narrowly missed a backhand crosscourt volley. Anderson, who had been broken on nine occasions in five previous matches, breathed a huge sigh of relief to come through the 13-minute game.
At 4-5, Isner, who had not been broken in 99 service games during the grass-court major this year, struck a double fault at 30/30 to gift Anderson a set point, which he saved with an unreturned second serve. In an inevitable tie-break, Isner ripped a forehand winner to open up a 3/1 lead and went on to gain a 4/2 advantage before he lost three straight points. Anderson saved one set point with a smash at 6/6, then set up his first set-point chance with a crosscourt backhand that Isner could not return. Isner struck a 120 miles-per-hour second serve at 6/7, but hit a forehand into the net (the American’s 14th unforced error of the 63-minute set) to end a short rally.
Isner regrouped and continued to hit his spots on serve, while both players hoped to get a strong racquet on a return. At 4-4, on Isner’s serve, the opportunity came for Anderson when he struck a forehand winner down the line at 30/30. Isner saved the break point when he struck a forehand volley off a big first serve. A few games later, the 6’10” American made sure in the second set tie-break, winning the first five points with aggressive intent from inside the service box. Anderson saved Isner’s first two set points with an ace and an unreturned serve, sowing a seed of doubt in Isner’s mind. But on Isner’s third set point opportunity at 6/5, he fired his 19th ace of the 54-minute second set and roared in delight.
Are You In? Subscribe To Get Tournament Updates In Your Inbox