Roger Federer was a point away from a rather tidy, straight-set victory in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. One lousy point.
And then, slowly, over the next two-plus hours, all the way until the fifth set reached its 24th game, as the temperature dropped and the spectators’ cries of “Let’s go, Roger!” echoed through the shadows, everything came apart for the eight-time champion against an opponent who’d never beaten him before nor made it this far at the All England Club.
In a stunning turnaround in an unfamiliar setting Number One Court instead of Centre Court — the top-seeded Federer blew a third-set match point and, eventually, all of his big lead in a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 loss to number eight seed Kevin Anderson on Wednesday in a four-hour, 14-minute tussle.
He was leading by two sets and 5-4 in the third when, with Anderson serving, he got to Advantage. He could have ended things right then and there. Federer managed to return a 215kph serve, but on his next stroke, he shanked a backhand.
Back to deuce. From there, it all began to change. Anderson held for 5-all, broke to 6-5 with a violent return winner off a 156kph second serve, then staved off three break points and closed the set with a 214kph ace.
This was only the third time in Federer’s 20 years of contesting Grand Slam matches that he lost one after taking the opening two sets; both of the other defeats came in 2011.
Djokovic, Nadal Semi-Final Setup
Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic got his wish to play in the main stadium, and he reached his first Grand Slam semi-final since 2016 by beating number 24 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Djokovic is a 12-time major champion who’s been in something of a rut, due to right elbow troubles that lasted more than a year until he finally had surgery in February.
He’s been flashing some anger this fortnight and did so again in the second set, bouncing his racket off the turf after failing to capitalise on three break points at one set all.
That earned a code violation from chair umpire Carlos Ramos. When Nishikori let his own racket fly in the fourth set, he wasn’t chastised, which prompted Djokovic to yell “double standards” toward Ramos — drawing boos from fans.
Now he is through to the semi-finals, where he will meet Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal will continue his bid for a second straight Grand Slam triumph when he meets Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Friday.
The French Open champion is chasing his 18th Grand Slam title and will fancy his chances of another SW19 triumph if he can defeat three-time champion Djokovic in the last four.
The winner will face either Kevin Anderson or John Isner in the final after the former conquered grass king Roger Federer in five sets on Wednesday to reach his second Slam semi-final.
The world No.1 scraped past Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a Centre Court classic.
In one epic 14-point game early in the deciding set between Nadal and Del Potro, such was the desperation of both combatants that the Argentinian twice left the ground trying to retrieve balls at the net before Nadal went hurtling over a barrier, into the stands and onto jaw- dropping spectators’ laps.
When he finally prevailed after four hours and 48 minutes, Nadal – and del Potro – received a rousing standing ovation from the packed crowd including another living legend left-hander Rod Laver in the Royal Box.