Djokovic downs Nadal in epic to reach Wimbledon final

Kevin Anderson defeated Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals. AP

Kevin Anderson defeated Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals. AP

A collection of jaw-dropping rallies treated fans as two of the sports' greatest stars duked it out on the British grass.

Novak Djokovic strains to return a shot during his 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 10-8 victory over Rafael Nadal.

After they were locked 5-5, both players, perhaps recognising that it was aggression rather than restraint that was going to make a difference at that stage, upped their games, producing some of the finest moments of the match.

"Its been a roller-coaster ride for him the last couple rounds, but he had a day off, which means a lot", Djokovic said.

Anderson had a strong chance to secure the third set and potentially keep the match from going the distance - as Anderson's round of 16 and quarterfinal bouts did.

In nine years since Roddick's last Grand Slam final, USA women have reached a combined 21 Grand Slam finals (16 via Serena Williams).

The final scorecard was 6-4 3-6 7-6 3-6 10-8 in Djokovic's favour. "If I was on the opposite side, I don't know how you take it - getting through something like that is quite different". "I do think the rule needs to change and maybe you guys would agree as well".

Anderson noted that some members of the Centre Court crowd were ready for his match to end, so that the day's second semifinal, between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, could begin.

"I managed to overcome challenges and obstacles, get myself to the final of a Slam", added Djokovic.

"I'm very happy that I can disagree with Boris", he said.

Anderson's prize for his bittersweet victory over his former U.S. college friend and rival is a date on Sunday with either world No.1 Rafael Nadal or fellow grand slam giant Novak Djokovic.

Kevin Anderson celebrates winning a point against John Isner during their long semifinal match Friday at Wimbledon.

Starting under the Centre Court floodlights, finishing after an overnight break, and packed with quality and drama throughout, it was a match befitting a final never mind a semi-final.

The ridiculous length of the Anderson-Isner clash left Nadal and Djokovic waiting until 8pm local time before stepping on court for their box office semi-final.

"I apologise if I´m not more excited right now". He had surgery in February, but his results were still shaky.

Until now, that is. "I deserved it, too". 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.

"It's hard to pick the words", said Djokovic, who has won his past eight five-setters at Wimbledon. "I'll just have to accept the circumstances and try to recover as best as I can", Djokovic said.

That match will be played with the roof open.

There was high-decibel, high-stakes, high-quality tennis right from the get-go Saturday, beginning with an 18-point, six-deuce game that lasted 15 minutes. He has a 12-9 win-loss record in major finals, and has won three of his four previous Wimbledon championship matches.

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

In front of the watching Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Nadal made him pay.

There were other such displays of emotion from Djokovic, who is prone to yelling at himself or at his coach. Its official time was 11 hours and 5 minutes. But they grew restless once the match passed the five-hour mark, sighing and groaning with each failure to break serve.

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