Wimbledon 2018: Kevin Anderson calls for Grand Slam final set rethink after Novak Djokovic coasts final

James Benge
Anderson was unable to mount a serious challenge to Djokovic: AP

Kevin Anderson has called for Grand Slams to consider fifth-set tie-breaks after a gruelling passage to the Wimbledon final left him a broken man as he lost the final to Novak Djokovic.

Anderson was unable to summon up the energy to repel Djokovic for much more than two hours on Centre Court, with the Serb winning his 13th Grand Slam title 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (3).

Anderson’s semi-final win over fellow big server John Isner took six hours and 36 minutes to complete, nearly three hours of which was a final set in which it took 50 games for the South African to find a way through.

That match - which forced Djokovic to finish his semi-final with Rafael Nadal on Saturday - has led to a renewed debate over whether fifth sets should finish with the same tie-breaks as the other four, a system currently only in place at the US Open. It is a dialogue that Anderson welcomes.


“I just hope the slams can also at least look at it and have an open conversation about it,” he said. “I think it's at least a conversation worth having both just protecting players' health when you have these very long matches. But, you know, I honestly don't know where it exactly will go from that.

“I guess my hope is just to have a conversation about it."

While Djokovic looked back to his old self immediately on Centre Court, a mixture of big day nerves and exhaustion meant Anderson - broken in the match’s opening game - was at sea throughout the first two sets.

Even at his best in the third set, where Djokovic denied him on five separate set points, Anderson still seemed short of the player who had been so powerful in victories over Gael Monfils and Roger Federer.

The latter of those matches had required 24 games in the fifth, a comparative breeze to that required to separate Anderson and Isner on Friday.

Asked by Standard Sport whether the quality of finals was being diminished by the gruelling demands often placed on players to get there, Anderson agreed that the final product would be harmed before adding: “The flipside would be, I think fans specifically really enjoy and find a huge value in seeing extended matches.

“I mean, it's definitely a talking point. People remember those sort of matches. I'm sure my match with John will be spoken about just because of the uniqueness of the match, the length of the match.

“But most people I speak to I feel really find value if there was a fifth-set breaker like there is at the US Open. It's really exciting. If a winner hasn't been decided at six-all in the fifth, I don't think there's a reason to continue playing.

“I don't think there's that much value in having to break serve and hold serve. I think a tie-breaker would be fine. That would be sort of my case or my reasoning.”

Speaking on his recovery after the third longest singles’ match in tennis history, Anderson added: “Honestly, Saturday was pretty tough. There was a lot of thoughts going through my mind of: 'Am I going to be ready to play another three-out-of-five-set match on Sunday against somebody like Novak?'


"Getting here to the courts, seeing the doctors, seeing the podiatrist for my feet. Having a very light hit, I probably only hit for 10 or 15 minutes. You go through certain exercises that I do. When things aren't feeling the way they should, you always have a little bit of doubt.

“I think all in all, my body actually handled it pretty well.”

Ultimately though, with Djokovic at his best, Anderson’s body was unable to propel him to victory.