Kevin Anderson beat John Isner in the first Wimbledon semi-final in a gruelling five-setter to book his first ever place in the final. He needed a final set that lasted 50 sets to make it to the title-decider.
For both men it is their first time at this stage at Wimbledon, and, for 33-year old Isner, his first ever Grand Slam semi-final ever, as opposed to his 32-year old South African opponent who has recent experience from last year’s US Open, when he reached the final.
However, if that gives him an edge, it is the American Isner who has the advantage when it comes to head-to-head record. The pair have met eleven times, and Isner has won eight of their matches, although you need to go back to the 2015 Indian Wells Masters for their last encounter.
And, if you want to go back to their form against each other on grass, you have to go even further back to 2008 and the Queen’s Club event, when both were starting on the tour and were playing in the qualifiers, with Isner again coming out on top.
Given, however, that none of that history is recent, form in the current tournament may be a better guide as to the outcome of the match.
Anderson comes into the game having caused a big upset by defeating reigning, and eight-time, Wimbledon winner, Roger Federer in a five-set classic, winning 13–11 in the fifth set.
That win will give him immense confidence that he can go all the way and reach his second Grand Slam final in less than a year, especially given the fact that he came from two sets and a match point down to win. However, the match lasted 4 hours and 13 minutes on a hot day, which is sure to have taken a lot out of him physically.
By contrast, Isner beat Milos Raonic relatively comfortably in four sets, and did not concede a single break point during the entire match. He will be the fresher of the two, and, playing in his 41st Grand Slam event, will be hoping for a maiden final appearance.
The result will almost certainly be decided by who returns serve better, and is almost too close to call. However, Anderson, with his recent Grand Slam experience, may just have the slightest of advantages.
Interestingly, the match starts off as a coin toss, with Betway offering 10/11 for either player to win this.