A FEROCIOUS fightback from Rafael Nadal wasn't enough for the Spaniard to fight off Novak Djokovic in a thrilling finish to Wimbledon's two day, five-set semi-final.
The Serbian former world number one will face Kevin Anderson in Sunday's final after an absorbing 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11/9) 3-6 10-8 victory which took five-and-a-quarter hours.
From the way Novak Djokovic repeatedly smacked his racket against his shoe after one miss, to the shouts directed at himself and his coach after others, it was clear how much he wanted to prove he's past the roughest patch of his career.
Kevin Anderson overcame marathon man John Isner to reach the Wimbledon final after the longest semi-final in grand slam history.
This one seems rather tidy by comparison: Anderson won 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24. Anderson finally came through on his sixth for a 25-24 lead, when Isner wearily put a backhand into the net.
Anderson was praised after expressing his sympathy for Isner in a humble post-match interview and later tweeted: "Thank you John for being an incredible sportsman and friend".
Anderson, who had the doctor on court as early as the fifth game of the match, complaining of what appeared to be dizziness, came from behind to win the first tiebreak of the match.
Not only is Anderson far less accomplished than either of these two - he owns zero Grand Slam titles - but he also is coming off a pair of strenuous five-setters, including his 13-11 win against eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Given the drama of Anderson's prolonged tie-break-fest against John Isner, that is no certainty.
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Nadal said: "It has been a great match - I think a fantastic level of tennis for both of us".
Anderson and Isner walked on to Centre Court at 1pm for a big-serving showdown which many thought might go the distance.
After each of his service games, Isner was one game away from the win, which was likely more agonizing than helpful, especially as Anderson continued to pummel aces and winners to bring things back even.
"I don't know what to say, it feels like a draw".
The Serb led by two sets to one when play stopped at 23:02 BST on Friday.
Not every match in the commentary box can be a Nadal v Del Potro classic so he was a bit spoilt at the beginning of his career behind the mic.
Anderson reached his first grand slam final at the US Open previous year, at the 34th time of trying. "I think I can keep doing damage here", the No. 9 seed was quoted as saying afterward on the ATP World Tour's Web site. "I'm not going to change that now", said the American. "I´ve felt better before", said Isner who had also been hoping to be the first American man in a Slam final since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009. "I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn't happen". For all the talk of the Federer/Nadal rivalry, the Djokovic/Nadal pairing may have produced the most fiery tennis ever.
Numerous best points came in the tiebreaker, including a 23-shot rally that Nadal finished off with a forehand half-volley drop shot to set up his first set point.