WIMBLEDON, England — Roger Federer will not win a ninth Wimbledon title for a 21st career Grand Slam trophy this year.
The top-seeded Federer, who held a match point in the 10th game of the third set, was sent packing in dramatic fashion by eighth-seeded Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4,13-11 in a 4-hour, 14-minute quarterfinal marathon.
“Down two-sets-to-love I really tried my best to keep fighting,” said the 32-year-old Anderson, playing in his first Wimbledon quarterfinal. “I thought I did a great job not thinking too much. Beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon is one I will remember. I kept telling myself today was going to be my day. I’m obviously very ecstatic to get through that.”
While Anderson was delighted in having reached his first Wimbledon semifinal Wednesday, the 36-year-old Federer left the tournament feeling as if he betrayed his often given reputation of being the greatest to ever play the game.
“It’s just not one of my best days, but they don’t happen very often either,” Federer said. “It’s one of those average days you have to try to win the match, and I just couldn’t get it done today. So it’s disappointing.”
Federer, long anointed the kind of grass courts, handed Anderson the match on his serve in the 23rd game of the fifth set.
When Federer double-faulted at 30-30 for the first time in the match, and only fourth time in the tournament, he offered the South African the first break point of the final set. At 30-40, Federer netted a forehand to surrender his serve, which cost him the match.
“As the match went on, I couldn’t surprise him anymore,” said Federer, reflecting on what went wrong. “That’s a bad feeling to have. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. I’ve been in many matches like this.
“These are the moments where you try to hold serve, create opportunities,” he added. “Maybe he’s got to miss a few more than make a few more. That’s going to make the difference. I couldn’t come up with enough good stuff for him to miss more. I think that was the key at the end.”
At 40-15 in the final game, Anderson hit a forehand winner to end Federer’s dream of another Wimbledon trophy, at least for this year. Anderson served 28 aces and scored 65 winners to 61 for Federer.
It marked only the third time that Anderson’s rebounded from a two-sets deficit to win a five-set match. In their previous four meetings, Anderson failed to win a set.
Federer’s run of Wimbledon consecutive sets won ended at 34 when Anderson went on to win the final three sets in the match. His streak of 34 consecutive sets won equals his previous record, which he secured between the third round in 2005 and the 2006 final.
Anderson, who played in his first Grand Slam final at the 2017 U.S. Open, losing to Rafael Nadal, will face ninth-seeded John Isner in the semifinals.
As for Federer, his fans shouldn’t be concerned about seeing him playing at Wimbledon again. Barring any unforeseen situations, Federer plans to spend the early part of the summer as he’s done since 1999, in the search for another Wimbledon trophy.
And he knows exactly what will drive him to return here in hopes of giving his best for seven consecutive matches.
“Of course, the goal is to come back here next year,” Federer said. “I wouldn’t call it ‘unfinished business.’ I felt like I did some good business here in the past already. So I’m all right. Just disappointed now.
“Maybe the losses hurt more, that you don’t want to be on the loser’s side,” he added. “It motivates me to do extremely well here because I don’t want to sit here and explain my loss. That’s the worst feeling you can have as a tennis player.”
To that end, he went on to describe just how he was feeling having to leave Wimbledon as a defeated defending champion.
““To be honest, I didn’t feel mental fatigue (during the match),” Federer said. “Now I feel horribly fatigued and just awful. It’s terrible. But that’s how it goes, you know.”