If Kevin Anderson was facing John Isner in the first week of Wimbledon, its hard to imagine it being played any higher than Court 18 and yet the big-serving duo thrashed it out on Centre Court in the semi-finals.
Well into their 30s, the pair are in the form of their lives but it was the American who came up trumps to reach the final with a marathon7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (8-10) 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 26-24 win – the longest semi-final in the tournaments history.
At six hours and 35 minutes, it was the longest match ever played on Centre Court and the second-longest match at The All England Club. Though it was some way short of Isners three-day epic against Nicolas Mahut back in 2010.
Isner did, however, break the record of the most serves at a tournament – beating Goran Ivanisevics 213 on his way to the Wimbledon back in 2001.
After taking out Roger Federer in remarkable fashion, 2017 US Open runner-up Anderson was forced to go the distance once again and he triumphed in remarkable fashion.
With fellow semi-finalists Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic waiting in the wings, Isner and Anderson made the most of their first appearance on Centre Court in these championships – staying on court for six hours.
It was, inevitably, a match of big serves galore, with an 129mph second serve from Isner a highlight, but both offered plenty off the ground too in an engaging five-set encounter.
However, the 33-year-old 610” American was the man to book his spot in the final – becoming the first man from his country to reach that stage since Andy Roddick finished as a runner-up here in 2009.
Isner had won their last four meetings and crafted three chances to break in a lengthy third game of the match, but Anderson held firm.
Anderson had a break and set point chance at 5-4, but Isner fired down a gutsy 129mph unreturned second serve to keep himself in contention.
An Isner ace fittingly concluded the 12 games in the first, before Anderson recovered from a mini-break down to take a one-set lead after an hour and three minutes.
Another ace from the American saw him level the match in another tiebreak.
Just before the two-and-a-half hour mark, Anderson produced the first break of the match – the first time someone had broken the Isner serve throughout this tournament. Remarkably, Isner hit straight back and went on to move in front.
Again, the pair traded breaks early in the fourth, but Anderson broke and eventually served it out to take the match into a decider after three hours and 40 minutes.
The fifth and deciding set never looked as if it was going to finish, but a break late in the day snatched victory for the South African.