Anderson faces another epic battle... to get fit for Wimbledon final
As if surviving a six hour, 36 minute marathon was not enough punishment for his body, Kevin Anderson is now hoping his “sore” and “swollen” feet, and “jelly-like” legs will be able to withstand one final test in Sunday’s men’s final at Wimbledon.
How he does that after contesting the longest ever Grand Slam semi-final is anyone’s guess. “He’s got a tough task ahead of him,” summed up John Isner on Friday after the American came off second best in a 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24 war of attrition.
And Isner should know. Eight years ago, he was enshrined in Wimbledon folklore for winning the “endless match” — an 11 hour, five minute humdinger against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut that Isner edged 70-68 in the decider. With that three-day epic being just a first round contest, when Isner returned for his next match, he folded very, very quickly — in just 75 minutes and without an ace in sight.
Anderson will be hoping that is not the fate that awaits him on Sunday when he faces one of the fittest athletes in sport in the shape of either Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic — who between them own 29 Grand Slam titles.
“I’ve never played a match this long, so I have to recover as much as I can for the final now,” the 32-year-old Anderson told reporters. “I’d like to have been done a little bit earlier in terms of my recovery, playing against two of the greatest players of all time.
“I need a lot of treatment in terms of getting the body back balanced and stuff, but at the same time obviously sleep is important, too.
“Obviously it’s not going to be easy.”
South African tennis player grinds his way to Wimbledon final by showing true grit and determination. Source: Reuters / Wimbeldon
That recovery process started as soon as he came off Centre Court at 7:46pm on Friday. “I actually went straight into the ice tank, then I did the stretching. I actually ate before stretching, as well,” he said.
“Obviously trying to get sort of food and nutrition back in my body is a challenge because you definitely don’t feel like eating, but you have to somehow force it down.”
The only silver lining for Anderson, if it can be called that, is that the length of his match had a knock-on effect on the Nadal-Djokovic semi-final. After being kept waiting until past 8pm to start their semi-final, the duo ran out of time to finish it before the 11pm curfew and will have to return on Saturday to complete the match with Djokovic leading by two sets to one.
Anderson will be keeping his fingers and toes crossed that the 52nd meeting of their career turns into another exhausting epic to match some of their previous blockbusters.
“Watching these guys, they’re moving like gazelles out there,” a worn out Isner added. “Whoever wins this (second) match you would think, because of how much time Kevin spent on court, will be the prohibitive favourite.
“If Kevin can serve like that, serve a high percentage like he did, he could have his shot, for sure. He’ll do everything possible to get ready for Sunday.”
Whether that will be enough is anyone’s guess.