Former Illini pulls Wimbledon stunner

Former Illini pulls Wimbledon stunner

Kevin Anderson is moving on at Wimbledon.

Somehow, some way. 

The former Illini outlasted top-ranked Roger Federer in a marathon Wimbledon quarterfinal match on Wednesday morning, rallying to win in five sets and advance to his first-ever semifinal appearance at the All England Club. 

Federer won the first two sets, 6-2, 7-6 (5) before Anderson rallied to win the next two sets, 7-5, 6-4, becoming the first player at Wimbledon this year to take a set from Federer.

The two traded winning the first 22 games in the fifth set, before Anderson broke Federer's serve and took a 12-11 lead in a match that exceeded four hours.

Neither player had been able to break the other one in the fifth set, with each holding their serve, until Anderson broke Federer to go up 12-11. Federer double-faulted to put Anderson up 40-30 in the 23rd game of the set before an unforced error by Federer gave Anderson the game.

Anderson went up 40-15 on Federer in the 24th and final game of the fifth set before closing out the match with an ace, denying Federer a shot at his ninth Wimbledon title.

"I just kept on telling myself, 'I have to keep believing,'" Anderson told reporters after the win. "You really need that mindset taking the court against sombody like Roger. If you go out there with doubts or unsure about what's going to happen, like I maybe did a little bit in that first set, it's not going to go your way."

Anderson stayed in the match thanks to his serving, compiling 28 aces.

The eighth-seeded Anderson advances to face No. 9 John Isner in a Friday semifinal match. Isner defeated No. 13 Milos Raonic 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach his first-ever semifinal at a Grand Slam.

The other semifinal match on Friday will pit three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic against Rafael Nadal, who has won Wimbledon twice, in a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon final.

Djokoovic, seeded 12th at this year's tournament, defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday in his quarterfinal match.

Nadal, the second seed, outlasted No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro in a crowd-pleasing five-set duel to reach his first Wimbledon semifinal since 2011.

Nadal came from a set down to win 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in 4 hours, 48 minutes, the longest match of this year's tournament.

Anderson staved off Federer's first and only attempt at match point, trailing 5-4 in the third set, before winning the game to tie the set at 5-5 and ultimately winning the next game to take a 6-5 lead.

Anderson, last year's runner-up at the U.S. Open in his best finish at a Grand Slam, clinched the third set with an ace against Federer.

In the fourth set, Federer and Anderson alternated winning the first six games until Anderson broke Federer's serve to take a 4-3 lead and then Anderson went up 5-3 thanks to strong serving before he clinched the set.

Anderson hit 13 winners and just four unforced errors in the fourth set, claiming the only break.

"As the match went on, I just kept to myself, 'This is going to be my day,'" Anderson said. "I just gave it my all, and obviously, very ecstatic to get through that."

The 32-year-old Anderson won the 2006 NCAA doubles title with Ryan Rowe during his Illini career, and the native of South Africa earned All-American honors in each of his three seasons at Illinois.

Anderson is part of the second-ever Illinois athletics Hall of Fame class that will be inducted on Sept. 22 during a ceremony at State Farm Center in Champaign.