Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Anderson stuns Federer in Wimbledon marathon

Kevin Anderson of the host Sacramento Capitals serves
in a 2012 World TeamTennis match. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Eleven years ago, Kevin Anderson lost to fellow prospect Scoville Jenkins in two close sets in the final of a $15,000 Futures tournament in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis.
   Jenkins retired three years later at age 23. He is now the associate head coach at the University of Wisconsin.
   The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, meanwhile, has risen to No. 8 in the world.
   Anderson took another big step in his career today, shocking top seed and defending champion Roger Federer 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.
   Anderson, seeded eighth, saved a match point while serving at 4-5 in the third set of the 4-hour, 14-minute battle.
   In another dramatic quarterfinal, second-seeded Rafael Nadal subdued fifth-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in 4 hours, 48 minutes.
   Although the 32-year-old Anderson is from South Africa, he is practically American. He starred at the University of Illinois, where he met his American wife, and lives in Gulf Stream, Fla.
   "I have already gotten tons of messages from support back home," Anderson, the first South African man to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Kevin Curren in 1983, told reporters. "Obviously at this sort of event, playing against an opponent like Roger is going to have a lot of coverage. Again, I really hope it's an example of sticking to your dreams and keep believing in yourself. ... It's not easy coming from South Africa; it's very far from the tennis scene. ... "
   The Loomis final is not Anderson's only tie to Northern California. He won the 2006 NCAA doubles title at Stanford and in 2012 reached the quarterfinals of the SAP Open in San Jose and played part-time for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis. The SAP Open and Capitals folded after the 2013 season.
   Against Federer, Anderson belted 28 aces and prevented the Swiss star from breaking his own record of 34 consecutive sets won at Wimbledon.
   "He's got a nice, big serve that he can rely heavily on," said Federer, who had never lost a set in four career matches against Anderson. "There's nothing really that shocked me because I've seen Kevin play many, many times in the past. Even if the matches have been maybe sometimes one-sided ... you always know he can pick it up, and all of a sudden you won't see breaks for some time."
   Anderson will face 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, seeded ninth, on Friday in a bid to reach his second Grand Slam final. Nadal drubbed Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the U.S. Open last September.
   Isner, 33, beat 13th-seeded Milos Raonic 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first major semifinal.
   Like Anderson, Isner played in the final of a $15,000 Futures tournament in the Sacramento region in 2007. Isner won the title in Shingle Springs, his first as a professional.
   Raonic never lost a set in the SAP Open, winning the last three crowns.
   Isner is 8-3 against Anderson with victories in their last five matches. This will be their first meeting in a Grand Slam tournament.
   Nadal will play resurgent Novak Djokovic, seeded 12th. Djokovic defeated 15th-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2016 U.S. Open.
   Djokovic has won Wimbledon three times (2011, 2014 and 2015), and Nadal has captured the title twice (2008 and 2010).
   You might say Djokovic, 31, and Nadal, 32, have a rivalry. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 26-25. Nadal has won the last two matches, which followed seven consecutive victories by Djokovic.
   This will be the pair's first Grand Slam encounter since Djokovic won in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the 2015 French Open and their first meeting at Wimbledon since Djokovic triumphed in four sets in the 2011 final.
   In today's women's doubles quarterfinals, unseeded Alicja Rosolska of Poland and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., ousted top-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   Babos and Mladenovic won this year's Australian Open for their first major title together. Mladenovic also won the French Open with compatriot Caroline Garcia in 2016.
   The women's singles semifinals are set for Thursday. No. 11 seed Angelique Kerber will meet No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko at 5 a.m. California time, followed by No. 13 Julia Goerges against No. 25 Serena Williams. ESPN will televise both matches.

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