- Kevin Anderson defeated John Isner in a marathon match on Friday to earn a spot in the Wimbledon final.
- On one of the most critical points of the match, Anderson hit what will likely go down as the shot of the tournament, recovering after a stumble to return a shot with his off hand and win the point.
Anderson later noted that his father had coached him to learn with his off hand while growing up, so it was a shot that he’d practiced more than one might expect.
It took six hours and 36 minutes to get the result, but Kevin Anderson made it through to the 2018 Wimbledon final after defeating John Isner in a marathon match on Friday, -6(6), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24.
The frustrating slog of a tennis match was the result of one of Wimbledon’s quirks — a rule that fifth sets cannot end on a tiebreaker, but rather must be won by two games.
With Anderson and Isner known as two of the most powerful servers in the tournament, it was predictably difficult for either player to break the other’s serve. But after each man had won 24 games in the first set, Anderson finally broke through and took the match, employing one of the most impressive shots of the tournament thus far to do it.
Anderson had already won the first point of the game, but was blown back while returning yet another of Isner’s monstrous serves. Rather than giving up the point and settling for 15-15, Anderson scrambled to his feet, picking up his racket with his left hand and sending back a forehand return. Anderson is a righty, prompting the Wimbledon crowd collectively gasp at the play. After a few more hits, Isner would send a ball wide to put Anderson just two points away from breaking his opponent.
In the middle of a 6-hour match, Kevin Anderson fell down and switched hands on a return 😎 pic.twitter.com/dfL3uJ7R2F
— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2018
“That definitely brings a smile to my face,” Anderson said of his lefty shot in the critical game. He went on to note that the skill came with a bit of help from his father, who encouraged him to use his off hand.
“At that stage, you’re just trying to fight in every single moment,” he said. “I’ve hit a lot of left-handed balls throughout my life. I had surgery when I was quite young, and my dad, who coached me throughout my career, said, ‘learn to play left-handed.’ I didn’t know that was going to come into play at this point in my career, at this stage, but that was obviously a vital point for me in the end.”
With the win, Anderson will face off against the winner of Nadal-Djokovic match in the final at Wimbledon, with the hopes of winning the first major title of his career.
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