Two epics, one legend ousted | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 12, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:05 AM, July 12, 2018

Two epics, one legend ousted

Anderson stuns Federer; Nadal survives Del Potro; Djokovic and Isner in semis

Eight-time champion Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out of Wimbledon on Wednesday, surrendering a two-set lead and a match point at the hands of South African giant Kevin Anderson. Federer's exit extinguished hopes of a repeat of the 2008 final against his greatest rival Rafael Nadal, who progressed in a second epic against Juan Martin Del Potro.

Instead, world number one Nadal set-up a mouthwatering Wimbledon semifinal against old rival Novak Djokovic after battling back to beat Del Potro in a Centre Court thriller.

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 semi-final and 28th at the majors.

The two-time Wimbledon champion will face Djokovic for a place in Sunday's final. Djokovic leads their epic head-to-head rivalry 26-25.

Defending champion Federer, chasing a 21st Grand Slam title, lost a Court One epic, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 as 32-year-old Anderson became the first South African in the Wimbledon semifinals since Kevin Curren in 1983.

"Down two sets to love I tried my best to keep fighting. Beating Roger Federer here at Wimbledon will be one I remember, especially in such a close match," Anderson said.

"I kept telling myself to keep believing. I said today is going to be my day."

In a nail-biting four hour and 13 minute classic, it was 36-year-old Federer's earliest exit at the All England Club since his shock second round defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013.

"Sometimes you don't feel good, and you try your best. Today was one of those days. I didn't see it coming," said Federer. "I had moments where I was great, I felt like I was reading his serve, other moments where I don't know where the hell I was moving to."

For the only the second time at Wimbledon, Federer was beaten after holding a two-set lead, with his previous loss from that position coming against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2011 quarter-finals.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion appeared to be moving towards his fifth successive Wimbledon semi-final after taking the opening two sets.

That initial burst gave Federer 34 successive sets won at Wimbledon, equalling his own record set between 2005 and 2006.

But, playing on Court One for the first time in three years, Federer was unusually error-prone.

Once Anderson ended Federer's run of holding serve for 85 consecutive games -- a streak dating back to last year's semi-final -- his confidence soared.

But this time Federer cracked, serving his first double fault at 11-11 in the decider to give Anderson the crucial break that ushered the Swiss to the exit door.

Eighth seed Anderson will play John Isner -- who won a big-serve battle over 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-4 -- on Friday for a place in Sunday's final.

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, reached his first semifinal at the majors in more than two years by seeing off Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Djokovic reached his eighth Wimbledon semifinal and 32nd at the majors after a stormy Centre Court clash against Nishikori.

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