Isner finally succumbed to the 6-foot-8 (203 cm) Anderson just before 8 p.m. local time Friday in a grueling encounter full of plot twists in the longest men's semifinal in grand slam history and the third longest match of all time.
The first semifinal at Centre Court, between No. 8 seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa and No. 9 John Isner of the USA, features two powerful servers with similar games who have a lot less star power and considerably fewer Grand Slam trophies, to say the least: The Nadal-Djokovic combined count is 29, including five at Wimbledon.
Great rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal must return on Saturday to finish their Wimbledon semi-final with Kevin Anderson awaiting the victor. Isner finished with 53 aces to Anderson's 49, and Isner during the fifth set broke the single-tournament aces record with his 214th.
To say it was a close match would be drastically underselling what took place between the two players, whose history against one another dates back to their college days when Isner played at Georgia and Anderson played at IL.
The eighth-seeded Anderson became the first person to break the serve of ninth-seeded Isner, doing so once in the third set, twice in the fourth set and again during the fifth set. With the score tied at 6-6, a tiebreaker was needed to separate the two players, which Anderson went on to win 8-6. They play well a set and then they give up.
Twitter was abuzz with jokes that the Anderson-Isner match could well stretch beyond the 70-68 final-set scoreline that Isner won with over Mahut eight years ago.
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Their eagerly-awaited semi-final was halted just after 11pm (2200GMT) under a curfew agreement with Djokovic leading Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11/9).
It is also the second-longest match ever at a tennis major.
In a final set that lasted almost 3 hours, Anderson had break points at 7-7, 10-10 and 17-17 before finally earning the decisive breakthrough to go 25-24 up - drawing a massive roar from the crowd.
After the match, Anderson said: "I don't really know what to say right now". Just playing like that in those sort of conditions, just really tough on both of us.
"You feel like it's a draw between the two of us, but somebody has to win".
"I've known John for such a long time, he is a great guy".
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We will never forget this. "It's something, for me, special". "After 20 years, people will remember us, not only the '98 team". He continued: 'This is something we will never forget.
"I apologise if I'm not more excited right now but I've got so many mixed emotions". "For a lot of people, that's definitely the lasting image of my career", Isner said. Though Isner does have a bigger serve than the South African, he has less options should it come back.
"It's long overdue", said Isner, who suggested changing the rule to using a tiebreaker at 12-all in the fifth set.
"I really hope we can look at it and address this, because at the end, you don't even feel that great out there. I'm in the final of Wimbledon and that's half of a dream come true".
"I have to recover as much as I can for the final now".
It was also a delight to see twice victor Nadal firing on the grass.
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