Yet it was a remarkable feat of endurance from eighth seed Anderson, who fought back from two sets and match point down to defeat eight-time champion Roger Federer, 2-6, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11, in the quarterfinals.
He faced his friend and old college foe Kevin Anderson in the semifinals Friday, where he lost in a game that lasted more than six hours.
Anderson suggested in the aftermath that change was needed at the Grand Slams to stop players from being forced to keep playing for so long. John is such a great guy and I really feel for him because, if I'd been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming up short.
The reason the match went on for so long comes down to one of Wimbledon's quirks - a five-set match can not end on a tiebreaker, a tradition shared at the French Open and the Australian Open.
Isner now holds the record for the top two longest matches ever played at Wimbledon - this one second only to the American's epic 11-hour, 5-minute classic against Nicolas Mahut in 2010.
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Carried by this momentum, John grabbed the tie break 11-9 after saving two break points, clinching another marathon set to move closer to his first Grand Slam final.
That is perhaps a surprise considering Anderson is the more complete player. The fifth set alone contained the number of games that would typically take up four sets.
John Isner and Kevin Anderson simply refused to lose.
In the fifth set, Isner even jokingly asked the umpire if they could just play a tiebreak.
Wimbledon's lack of a fifth set tiebreaker in one of the things that makes the major unique. There was this: the tumble Anderson took late in the match, only to somehow hop up, hit the ball left handed and ultimately claim the point - all as the typically stoical Wimbledon crowd gasped and screamed above them. "I felt like I did some good business here in the past already", he said.