Kevin Anderson became the first South African man in 97 years to reach the Wimbledon final on Friday after downing American John Isner in the second longest Grand Slam singles match ever played.
Anderson, 32, won 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 26-24 after six hours and 36 minutes of a riveting battle on Centre Court.
The 6ft 10’ hard-hitter is the first South African Wimbledon men’s finalist since Brian Norton in 1921, faces Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s showpiece.
It was the longest semifinal ever played at Wimbledon, surpassing the four hours 44 minutes it took Djokovic to beat Juan Martin del Potro in 2013.
“I don’t really know what to say right now, playing like that in those conditions was really tough for the both of us,” said eighth seed Anderson.
“It feels like it’s a draw but somebody has to win. John’s a great guy. I really feel for him.
“I don’t know how you can take it playing for so long and coming out the wrong side.
“I apologise if I’m not more excited right now. At the end you don’t even feel that great out there, but at the same time I’m through to the final.”
Anderson saved three break points in the third game of the first set before Isner had to save a set point in the 10th.
That service hold – helped by a thunderous second serve – took the American to 100 service games unbroken at this Wimbledon.
However, Isner was then unable to convert a set point of his own in the tiebreak before 32-year-old Anderson wrapped it up thanks to a netted return.
After beating eight-time champion Roger Federer, also over five sets in the quarter-finals, 2017 US Open runner-up Anderson will now attempt to overturn a losing record against both Nadal (5-0) and Djokovic (5-1).