Kevin Anderson defeats John Isner in longest semifinal in Wimbledon history

You should’ve known we were in for a marathon match when you saw American John Isner’s name opposite South African Kevin Anderson in a Wimbledon men’s semifinal between top-10 players.

Isner won the longest match in tennis history, defeating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set of the first round at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. That match lasted 11 hours and five minutes.

Isner added a few more endurance records to his résumé on Friday, playing the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history and longest match ever on Centre Court at the All England Club against Anderson. The match marked the second-longest in tournament’s history, behind only his meeting with Mahut.

Anderson defeated Isner, 7-6,-6-7,-6-7, 6-4, 26-24, after six hours and 36 minutes. He broke Isner with the match tied 24-24 in the fifth set, and then held Isner off in the 50th game. The Isner-Mahut match was played over three days, making Isner-Anderson the longest single-day match ever at Wimbledon.

“I don’t even really know what to say right now,” an exhausted Anderson told ESPN in the immediate aftermath of the victory. “Just playing like that in those sort of conditions is really tough on both of us. At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us, but somebody has to win. John is such a great guy. I really feel for him, because if I had been on the opposite end of this, I don’t know how you can take that playing for so long and coming up short. I apologize if I’m not fully excited right now. There’s just so many mixed emotions. Getting through something like that is quite difficult.”

There are no tiebreakers in the fifth set of matches at Wimbledon. After Friday’s match, Anderson called for officials to revisit the rules in the best interest of players. In less than 48 hours, he will play the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

Friday’s match was the third-longest in men’s tennis history, less than 10 minutes shorter than the six-hour, 43-minute single-day match between Leonardo Mayer and João Souza at the 2015 Davis Cup.

See scenes from the match: 

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Kevin Anderson defeats John Isner in longest Wimbledon semifinal ever
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Kevin Anderson defeats John Isner in longest Wimbledon semifinal ever
US player John Isner reacts against South Africa's Kevin Anderson during the final set tie-break of their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. - Anderson won the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
US player John Isner returns against South Africa's Kevin Anderson during the final set tie-break of their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. - Anderson won the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
South Africa's Kevin Anderson prepares to serve against US player John Isner during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / various sources / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
South Africa's Kevin Anderson celebrates winning a point against US player John Isner during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Kevin Anderson of South Africa returns against John Isner of The United States during their Men's Singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US player John Isner returns against South Africa's Kevin Anderson during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US player John Isner celebrates winning a point against South Africa's Kevin Anderson during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
South Africa's Kevin Anderson leaves the court for a medical time-out during play against US player John Isner during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Kevin Anderson of South Africa returns against John Isner of The United States during their Men's Singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
13th July 2018, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, England; The Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 11; The clock winds past 5 hours during the match between John Isner (USA) against Kevin Anderson (RSA) (photo by John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13: John Isner of The United States reacts during his Men's Singles semi-final match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
US player John Isner serves against South Africa's Kevin Anderson during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. (Photo by Ben Curtis / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read BEN CURTIS/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Kevin Anderson of South Africa reacts against John Isner of The United States during their Men's Singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
South Africa's Kevin Anderson returns against US player John Isner during the final set tie-break of their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. - Anderson won the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
US player John Isner returns (R) passes South Africa's Kevin Anderson as they change ends of the court in the final set tie-break of their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. - Anderson won the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
South African eighth seed Kevin Anderson celebrates having reached his first Wimbledon final, beating American ninth seed John Isner 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (9/11) 6-4 26-24 in the longest semi-final in the tournament� history on day eleven of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)
South Africa's Kevin Anderson reacts after winning against US player John Isner during the final set tie-break of their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2018. - Anderson won the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
South African eighth seed Kevin Anderson celebrates having reached his first Wimbledon final, beating American ninth seed John Isner 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (9/11) 6-4 26-24 in the longest semi-final in the tournament� history on day eleven of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)
Kevin Anderson (right) and John Isner after his 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (9/11) 6-4 26-24 win in the longest semi-final in the tournament� history on day eleven of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)
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The previous semifinal record at Wimbledon was a four-hour, 43-minute match between Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro. Djokovic won that meeting in five sets, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.

Two years after his epic match with Mahut, Isner played another marathon match against Paul-Henry Mathieu in the second round of the 2012 French Open. Mathieu won 18-16 in the fifth set of a match that last five hours and 41 minutes. That one ranks 13th in men’s tennis history. So, all in all, Isner has played in three of the sport’s 15-longest matches ever, joining John McEnroe in that regard.

Anderson defeated Roger Federer in this year’s quarterfinals 13-11 in the fifth set of a four-hour, 14-minute match.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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