Kevin Anderson fends off John Isner in record-breaking Wimbledon semi-final

Milos Raonica

Milos Raonica

Having once again swapped breaks early on in the fourth set, Anderson broke Isner for the third time, and took the match into a decider on his fourth set point.

While some other tournaments are fine with matches coming down to a fifth set tiebreaker, at Wimbledon, a player must break their opponent's serve and win the set by two games.

After being kept waiting until past 8 p.m.to start their semi-final, the duo ran out of time to finish it before the 11 p.m. curfew and will have to return on Saturday to complete the match with Djokovic leading by two sets to one.

Novak Djokovic was "overwhelmed" after beating old foe Rafael Nadal in an epic Wimbledon semi-final he concedes could have gone either way.

They walked out under a closed Centre Court roof at around 8pm, with officials anticipating darkness will fall before their semi-final match is resolved.

So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: "At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us".

"Hopefully we can both play!"

The final scorecard was 6-4 3-6 7-6 3-6 10-8 in Djokovic's favour. Anderson moved to his first Wimbledon final as Isner produced his 59th unforced error.

Raonic then began struggling on serve, winning just one of his seven second-serve points in the third set and a surprisingly low 54 percent of his overall service points in the fourth set as the match slipped away.

When Nadal broke in Saturday's second game, a dismayed Djokovic grabbed a spare ball and whacked it with his racket against the wall behind the baseline.

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To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn't really seem fair. "I'm trying to digest that first, enjoy it, and we'll think about the next one".

Kevin Anderson of South Africa, right, meets John Isner of the U.S. on the court after defeating him in their men's singles semifinal match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Friday July 13, 2018.

This time, there was to be no tiebreak as the final set at Wimbledon is traditionally decided by a difference of two games.

Anderson weighed in with 49 aces to reach 172 so far. It's been a roller-coaster for him in the last couple of rounds but he had a day off and that means a lot.

For Nadal, victory would put him in a sixth Wimbledon final and 25th at the majors. I just expected to win a match, then win the next match.

But, in his 41st Grand Slam appearance, Isner is finally into the last four at a major.

The match continued its fiery back-and-forth with Nadal escaping match point 16 games into the final set, bringing spectators to their feet.

"I think it's long overdue", Isner said. I gave it my best, and that's it.

But it was the longest semi-final in grand slam history.

As ESPN reports, Djokovic hadn't won a major since the 2016 French Open, and became so frustrated with his performance in the intervening years that he "spoke about skipping the grass-court circuit".

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