Calls for tiebreaks to end absurd fifth-set contests grow louder

Mae Harvey
July 14, 2018

No South African, male or female, has ever won a singles title at Wimbledon, and the last SA man to make the singles final at the prestigious tournament was Brian Norton in 1921, who finished runner-up to USA legend Bill Tilden, also in five sets.

John Isner and Kevin Anderson played a six-hour match in the Wimbledon semifinal due to a fifth set that refused to end.

After being kept on the run for six hours and 36 minutes, the longest ever singles semi-final at the All England Club, how the 32-year-old was still standing was anyone's guess.

"John is a great guy and I feel for him", Anderson told the BBC after Friday's match.

"It feels like it´s a draw but somebody has to win".

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"Right now I feel awful".

"If I was on the opposite (losing) side I don't know how you take it".

"So, I apologise if I'm not more excited right many mixed emotions in getting through something like that".

"But at the same time, I'm through to the final".

While Anderson-Isner was mostly a serving duel with a few longer rallies thrown in, Djokovic and Nadal repeatedly slugged it out from the baseline, chasing each other around the court and coming up with spectacular winners from every corner.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were unable to finish a fascinating late-night encounter under the roof at Wimbledon on Friday, with the Serb leading by two sets to one.

He also went five sets to beat eight-time champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, winning the decider 13-11. But the ex-Illini had his serve broken in Game 9 of that set before he double-faulted while up 8-7 in the tiebreaker. In the fourth set, the American seemed to tire, with Anderson surging to a more conventional 6-4 win and seemingly ready to wrap it up.

The 33-year-old American´s composure wasn´t helped by a delay caused by a ball boy slipping and falling.

The last men's semifinal to be finished on Saturday was in 2007, between none other than Nadal and Djokovic.

Djokovic looked longingly at his box after dumping a return into the net and then screamed out after another missed chance - his third of the opening three games in the second set.

Djokovic had two break points when Nadal was serving for the set, angrily remonstrating with himself when he failed to convert them before gifting the Spaniard the set with a backhand error. That means, should the remainder of Nadal and Djokovic's match last longer than an hour - which, judging by what they dished up today, is a very real possibility - then the women's final will be delayed.

That gave two players who have contested some of the most gruelling matches in tennis history less than three hours or the prospect of completing the match on Saturday. However, it was still only half as long as the absurd contest between Isner and Mahut.

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