Anderson stops the Fed Express

Anderson came back from two sets down and saved a match point to stun the eight-time champion

Kevin Anderson celebrates after winning his Wimbledon quarterfinal match against Switzerland’s Roger Federer.
Kevin Anderson celebrates after winning his Wimbledon quarterfinal match against Switzerland’s Roger Federer.
Image: Reuters

Kevin Anderson told South African youngsters to “stick to their dreams” and follow in his footsteps after he knocked Roger Federer out of Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Anderson came back from two sets down and saved a match point to stun the eight-time champion 2-6 6-7 (5/7) 7-5 6-4 13-11. Anderson became the first South African to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Kevin Curren in 1983 and just the sixth in history.

“Yeah, already gotten tons of messages from support back home,” eighth seed Anderson said.

“Obviously, at this sort of event, playing against an opponent like Roger is going to have a lot of coverage.

“I really hope it’s an example of sticking to your dreams and keep believing in yourself.

“I always say I was in the same position, it’s not easy coming from South Africa, it’s very far from the tennis scene.”

Anderson is getting used to breaking barriers.

When he finished runnerup to Rafael Nadal at the US Open last year, he was the first South African man in a Slam final since Curren at the 1984 Australian Open.

He was also the oldest firsttime finalist at a major since Niki Pilic at the 1973 French Open.

I really hope it’s an example of sticking to your dreams and keep believing in yourself 
Kevin Anderson

It has been a hard road for Anderson, whose ranking slumped to 67 at the end of 2016 as he battled a serious knee injury.

But he has been fairly solid at the Slams ever since, making at least the last 16 at all the majors – with the exception of a first-round blip at the Australian Open this year.

“I think I was sort of on the border of actually going on to Australia [in 2017]. I decided not to go. I think in hindsight that was a great decision,” he said.

“That was something I learnt from 2016 where I constantly tried to get back into competition too quickly.

“It just took me a little bit of time to find my legs in the competitive atmosphere.

“I feel that sort of started to change towards the end of the clay court season last year.”

Even though he was two sets down and facing match point on Wednesday, Anderson insisted he never gave up hope.

That took great self-belief, he added, knowing that he had never taken a set off 20-time major winner Federer in four previous meetings.

“I just said, I’m down two sets to love, let me keep fighting. I felt I was playing better tennis, so that was motivating for me as well to keep at it,” Florida-based Anderson, who is applying for US citizenship, said.

“Facing off that match point, then getting a break the next minute, I’m like, ‘I’ve got the third set in the bag’.

“I was actually playing really high-quality tennis, having a few sniffs on his serve, almost felt my mind wondering, ‘well, maybe I can do this’.”

Next up for Anderson is a semifinal on Friday against John Isner, the American ninth seed, who won the battle of the big servers against Milos Raonic on Wednesday.

Isner’s 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (9/7) 64, 6-3 victory in the quarterfinals booked his first appearance in the last four at a Grand Slam.

Isner holds an impressive 83 record against Anderson, winning his last five meetings with the 32-year-old.

Isner famously played in Wimbledon’s longest-ever match against Nicolas Mahut in 2010, but he had never been past the third round at the All England Club until this year.

That lack of success on the big stage was not just restricted to Wimbledon. Isner had only made one Grand Slam quarterfinal in his career – seven years ago at the US Open.

But, in his 41st Grand Slam appearance, Isner is finally into the last four at a major. The last American man to reach the Wimbledon final was Andy Roddick in 2009.

Isner and Raonic went into the match both having hit more than 100 aces in their five matches – it was Raonic who drew first blood as he chased a return to the final two years after losing to Andy Murray.

But the Canadian 13th seed could not maintain that momentum. Once Isner hit back to take the second set, Raonic seemed to lose heart.

Meanwhile, world No 1 Rafael Nadal set up a mouthwatering semifinal against old rival Novak Djokovic after battling back to beat Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court thriller earlier on Wednesday.

Nadal triumphed 7-5 6-7 (7/9) 4-6 6-4 6-4 after four hours and 48 minutes to reach his sixth Wimbledon semifinal and 28th at the majors.

The two-time Wimbledon champion will face Djokovic, a three-time winner at the All England Club, who leads their epic head-to-head rivalry 2625. 

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