2018 Wimbledon: Kevin Anderson pulls off legendary upset of Roger Federer in five-set classic

The South African rallied from two sets down, saving a match point in the third set to reach the semifinals at the All-England Club for the first time.

2018 Wimbledon: Kevin Anderson pulls off legendary upset of Roger Federer in five-set classic
Anderson celebrates after his epic victory over Federer/Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Roger Federer
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Kevin Anderson

In a tournament that has been filled with upsets, the biggest one occurred today on No. 1 Court as eighth seed Kevin Anderson scored the biggest win of his career, stunning top seed Roger Federer 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 in the quarterfinals of 2018 Wimbledon.

The South African reaches the last four at the All-England Club for the first time in his career and progresses to the semifinals of a major for the second time following his run to the U.S. Open final last year while defeating the Swiss for the first time in five all-time meetings.

 

Federer runs away with the first set

The South African knew he would have to protect his serve at all costs, but he was in immediate trouble, falling behind 0-40.

After saving the first break point, he pulled a backhand wide to surrender his serve. A quick hold by the Swiss made it 2-0 and he was off and running.

A half-chance was presented to him in the fifth game as Federer got to deuce, but Anderson was eventually able to hold on his third opportunity to stay within touch.

The eight-time Wimbledon champion continued to cruise on serve, holding to lead 4-2 and was about to take full control. An unlucky net cord gave the eight-time champion 15-30 and an unforced error sets up two break points.

Anderson goes long with another groundstroke and Federer secured a double break lead. A drop shot on set point put away the opening set, the Swiss in full flight.

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Eight-time champion fights from behind to take the second set

The first point of the second set saw yet another error from the eighth seed and he was pushed to deuce, but managed to dig out a hold.

Stunningly, Anderson managed to breach the Federer serve, a backhand into the corner giving him a 2-0 lead, the first time the Swiss has dropped serve in the Championships.

A hold to love and it was 3-0 in the blink of an eye. The lead didn't last long as the 20-time major champion lobbed the 6'8" Anderson to set up break point, saved by the South African.

He saved another, but not a third and Federer was back on serve. A breakpoint saved led to a hold and the set was level at 3-3.

The next few games went by without much trouble for the server. At 5-4 for Anderson, the next three games saw the returner get more of a foothold, but both players held out to send the second set to a tiebreak. It was the South African jumping off to a 2-0 lead, an ace and a Federer giving Anderson the early advantage.

The Swiss rallied, his impeccable slice backhand forcing an error and Anderson's own backhand fired wide, a pinpoint backhand producing a winner and a brilliant serve put Federer in the driver's seat at 5-2. Another minibreak puts him on the precipice of a two-set lead.

That brought him to 6-3 and three set points, but he wasted the first two with forehand errors, Anderson temporarily rescuing the situation.

A big crosscourt forehand is enough to force the eighth to scramble a backhand long, Federer with a two-set lead and in prime position, 34 straight sets won at the All-England Club.

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Anderson battles to win third set

The South African was teetering on the edge, facing a 15-30 hole on his opening service game of the set. An ace, big serve and smash winner get him out of trouble to level at 1-1.

Again in the sixth game, still trailing Anderson again stared down 15-30, again some big serving and aggressive net play allow him to escape once more.

While the eighth seed was fighting to hold, Federer was winning his serve with relative ease. Once more, a chance, this time at 30-30, Anderson up to the challenge still and he produces another gutsy hold for 4-4.

The Swiss was on the front foot, looking to finish proceedings, but a shanked backhand on match point bails the eighth seed out.

What happened next would turn out to be the turning point of the match. Anderson would get a chance to break, a Federer drop shot that the South African reaches, but sends it just wide. A second chance and a forehand winner seizes the break, giving the eighth seed the break and a chance to serve out the set.

Now in a 0-40 hole, Anderson would be given a gift, two unforced errors from Federer sandwiched in between a blistering forehand winner bring the game back to deuce.

Another error brings up set point and the South African closes it out with an ace, the match headed to a fourth set, the Swiss ruing his chance to finish this off.

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South African continues incredible comeback, wins fourth set

Anderson's serve was much sharper to open the fourth set and he was matching Federer's quick holds as the set was finely poised at 2-2. The Swiss was starting to leak errors while the South African was getting the better of the rallies. That would pay off midway through the set.

His return game in full flight, the eighth seed crushed a forehand to set up two break points. A forehand miss erased the first chance, but a fortuitous bounce from the net on a backhand and Federer netted his return, Anderson suddenly two games away from forcing a fifth and deciding set.

A love hold put him a game from the fourth set and after the Swiss posted a love hold of his own, Anderson toed the line to serve out the set.

Another tense game ensued, an ace for 30-15, a massive backhand giving him set point. Federer saves it and creates a break chance, saved with a beautiful backhand winner.

Another ace brings up set point, taken with an Anderson forehand winner, the match now even at two sets all, setting up what would be a classic final set.

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Federer closes in on potential victory

Even with the amazing display that Anderson put on in the third and fourth sets, the advantage was still with Federer, the eight-time Wimbledon champion having won his last six five-set matches while the South African had lost his previous three.

The final set would have everything: the Swiss leading 0-15 on Anderson's opening service game, the South African with two aces and two unreturnable serves to hold. Federer fell behind 0-30, an ace and some powerful serving of his own enabling him to hold for 2-1.

Two more games, two more holds. The Swiss again would jump in front, this time 0-30, Anderson again with the answers in the form of some more forehand winners and an ace on game point. The South African then built a 0-30 lead on the Federer serve, the top seed continuing to serve big to rescue the situation, going up 4-3.

The Swiss rallied from 40-0 down to hold a breakpoint, saved as Anderson's serve forced a weak reply. A hold evened the set, but now he was in sudden death mode, needing to protect his serve in every game to avoid losing.

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Anderson fights for every hold to stay alive

The South African would be tested again serving at 6-5, 0-30 down. Federer misses a return of serve, slips on the next point and a classy forehand from Anderson brings him to 40-30. His 24th ace sets up game point and a forehand just over the baseline from Federer makes it 6-6.

Anderson appeared to be getting a bit weary at this stage and he was in a 15-30 hole, but his forehand came to the rescue as did a 132mph ace to set up game point, clinched with another unreturnable serve. Federer nets a routine volley to give Anderson a look, but he would escape for an 8-7 lead.

The Swiss would test those tired legs as he feathered a drop shot, the South African scampering in, but returning just wide. The next five games saw the returner win two points. With the score now at 11-11, the final two games would confirm this match in the annals of the tournament's long, rich history.

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Anderson takes final two games to complete historic upset

Federer began what turned out to be his last service game with a backhand miles long. He was behind 15-30 he pushes a low forehand off target.

A thumping forehand down the line makes it 30-all. His first double fault couldn't have come at a worse time, setting up break point for Anderson and he was on the front foot at 12-11 after the Swiss nets a forehand.

Serving for the match, Anderson begins with a forehand wide, but fires his 27th ace on the next point. A Federer forehand going long puts the South African two points from victory. Pummeling a forehand of his own, brings up two match points for the eighth seed.

A big serve down the middle stretches Federer out and he could only deflect his backhand wide, Anderson claiming a most memorable victory after 4 hours, 17 minutes of play, setting up a semifinal against ninth seed John Isner.