LONDON (Reuters) - Defending champion Roger Federer was knocked out of Wimbledon after South Africa’s Kevin Anderson roared back from two sets down to win a thrilling quarter-final clash on Wednesday.
Anderson, who reached the U.S. Open final last year, saved a match point in the third set before recovering to beat the Swiss top seed 2-6 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 13-11 after four hours and 14 minutes on Court One.
The 32-year-old Anderson will next face American John Isner, who overcame Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-7(5) 7-6(7) 6-4 6-3 in the battle of two of the biggest servers in the men’s draw.
Three time winner Novak Djokovic returned to a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time since the 2016 U.S. Open, beating Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-2.
The Serb looked in impressive form, particularly when he closed out the final set in ruthless fashion to set up a blockbuster semi-final with world number one Rafa Nadal.
French Open champion Nadal battled past Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 6-7(7) 4-6 6-4 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon last four for the first time since 2011.
The Spaniard finished with 67 winners to 34 unforced errors as he displayed his credentials as he bids to lift a third singles title at the All England Club.
Highlights from day nine of the Wimbledon championships on Wednesday (times GMT):
1955 NADAL OUTLASTS DEL POTRO IN FIVE-SET EPIC
World number one Rafa Nadal produced a performance of resilience and resolve as he edged past Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 6-7(7) 4-6 6-4 6-4 in four hours and 48 minutes.
The Spaniard reached his 28th Grand Slam semi-final and his first at Wimbledon since 2011. Up next for Nadal, is long-time rival and former world number one Novak Djokovic on Friday.
“Now is the moment to enjoy but start to recover, it was a tough physical battle,” Nadal said. “The opponent that is coming one of the toughest. I am just excited to be in the semis. I need to recover to give my best.”
Anderson stuns Federer in quarter-final cliffhanger
Nadal survives thriller to down Del Potro in quarter-finals
Djokovic into Wimbledon semis like a man on a mission
Federer at a loss to explain quarter-final defeat
Different Djokovic books his place in the final four
Anderson proved right as it turns out to be his day
Serena keeps calm and carries on past Giorgi
Goerges’ Wimbledon nightmare turns into dream run
Ostapenko back to her free-flowing best after French Open nightmare
American John Isner recovered from a slow start to overcome 2016 finalist Milos Raonic 6-7(5) 7-6(7) 6-4 6-3 in two hours and 42 minutes in their last eight clash.
Isner’s 41 attempts at reaching a first Grand Slam semi-final is the second-most in the Open era after fellow American Sam Querrey, who made the Wimbledon last four in 2017 on his 42nd try.
Isner will now face South African eighth seed Kevin Anderson, who earlier knocked out defending champion Roger Federer in five sets.
1800 LOSSES HURT MORE AT WIMBLEDON - FEDERER
Eight times champion Roger Federer said it always hurts losing at Wimbledon as he faced the media after his quarter-final defeat by South African Kevin Anderson.
When asked what motivated him to give his all after 20 appearances at the All England Club, the Swiss told reporters: “That maybe the losses hurt more, that you don’t want to be on the loser’s side.
“It motivates me to do extremely well here because I don’t want to sit here and explain my loss. That’s the worst feeling you can have as a tennis player.
“It’s one of those average days you have to try to win the match, and I just couldn’t get it done today. So it’s disappointing.”
1630 ANDERSON DOWNS FEDERER IN FIVE-SET THRILLER
Big-serving South African Kevin Anderson came back from two sets down to edge past top seed and defending champion Roger Federer 2-6 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 13-11 and reach his first Wimbledon semi-final.
The 32-year-old Anderson struck 65 winners and grabbed a decisive break in the 23rd game of the fifth set to seal victory after four hours and 14 minutes on Court One.
“I’m not sure what to say right now,” U.S. Open finalist Anderson said.
“I tried my best to keep fighting and was able to scrape through the third and fourth set.
“I’m in a position to hopefully be here on Sunday. Beating Roger here at Wimbledon is something I’m going to remember. But hopefully I have two more matches to play.”
Japan’s Kei Nishikori reckons Novak Djokovic has recovered his confidence over the last two weeks at the All England Club and has a chance to win his fourth Wimbledon title on Sunday.
“Maybe he has good chance to win the tournament,” said Nishikori, who was beaten in four sets by the Serb in the quarter-finals.
“He was pumping himself up. He was playing, you know, good tennis again. I’m sure he’s in good shape again. I think confidence is back for him.”
Three times champion Novak Djokovic roared back after dropping the second set to beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-2 and reach his eighth Wimbledon semi-final.
The Serb has progressed to the last four of a Grand Slam for the 32nd time to take sole ownership of second place on the list for the most semi-final appearances at a major in the Open Era, ahead of American great Jimmy Connors.
“It feels great to be in the last four. I feel like I’m peaking at the right moment,” said Djokovic, who booked a place in a Grand Slam semi for the first time since the 2016 U.S. Open.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond