July 11, 2018
Novak Djokovic may have dropped a set and received censure for a couple of code violations.
But his 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Kei Nishikori looked positively short and sweet compared to what unfolded on Court One between a victorious Kevin Anderson and Roger Federer.
Or indeed compared to Rafael Nadal’s bruising showdown with Juan Martin Del Potro, after the first two sets were shared 7-5 and 7-6.
Over on Court One. Federer and Anderson must have known deep down that the longer their match went on, the less chance either man had of winning Wimbledon.
Federer is out! And this might be the best we see of Anderson, even though he will never forget beating Federer 13-11 in the fifth.
Can anyone handle Djokovic in this sort of form on grass, though? You have to wonder whether any of those left in the tournament can beat him for craft and precision here.
What we know for sure is that the defending champion won’t be battling it out in the last four.
Federer should have won his quarter-final in three. He had match point at 5-4, and three successive break points to take that third set to a tie-break. Even after he fell behind.
All were squandered. And the match turned into a punishing yet thrilling war of attrition.
As it turned out, Federer blinked first, with his only double fault of the match, to hand Anderson a break point in the twenty-third game of an epic fifth set.
And when the great man netted to give up his service game at last, we knew the lanky South African was pretty much on his way to the semi-final.
By his own remarkable standards, the Federer forehand let him down.
He admitted: ‘I wasn’t feeling particularly good off the baseline, I didn’t feel mentally fatigued for the fifth set but now I feel awful, just terrible, but that’s the way it goes.’
Anderson said: ‘Down a match point I gave a great performance from there. I just kept telling myself “this is going to be my day.” I’ve just beaten Roger Federer at Wimbledon and now I have to recover.’
That might be easier said than done, and to peak again mentally after the biggest win of his career won’t be easy either.
Djokovic, on the other hand, is feeling feisty and fresh, both mentally and physically.
Even before the end of the first week, we at WDH had Djokovic second favourite only to Federer on the basis of what we had seen – and we said so.
With Roger now gone, Novak will certainly take some beating.