LONDON – South Africa’s Kevin Anderson pulled off a stunning come-from-behind 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 victory on Wednesday over Swiss defending champion Roger Federer to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time in his career.
Anderson pulled off the upset thanks to 28 aces and clutch play on break points throughout the match. He also appeared to benefit from the lack of a tiebreaker in the fifth set, as the 36-year-old Swiss wore down over the course of the four-hour-plus contest.
The match had all the makings of a routine Federer victory after the first set, which the Swiss great won with two service breaks and the loss of just one point on his serve.
But Anderson worked his way into the match in the second set, which he narrowly lost in a tiebreaker after the two players had traded service breaks.
The turning point came late in the third set.
Anderson, after saving a match point on his serve in the 10th game, broke Federer’s serve in the ensuing game and then clinched the set with a final service hold.
One service break in the seventh game of the fourth set was then all Anderson would need to force a decider.
As the match wore on, the 36-year-old Federer seemed physically depleted, while the 2.03-meter (6-foot-8) Anderson kept recording one service hold after another until finally getting a crucial service break in the 23rd game of the fifth set.
He then finished off the win one game later when Federer was unable to return one last big serve off the South African’s racquet.
“I guess there was definitely a moment (where I lost control of the match) at some point,” Federer was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour’s Web site. “Is it missing match points? Is it getting broken at 5-All after that?”
“I’m not sure ... There’s a lot of little points here and there that always make a difference in the outcome of a match.”
With the loss, Federer missed out on the chance to add to his record haul of Wimbledon (eight) and Grand Slam (20) men’s singles titles.
Anderson will next square off in Friday’s semifinals against another of tennis’ biggest servers: either American John Isner or Canada’s Milos Raonic.