Kevin Anderson was told to “believe in himself” by Wayne Ferreira – the previous Saffa to reach the last eight of Wimbledon way back in 1994 – and boy, did he.
The 31-year-old believed so much in himself that he claimed an epic 2-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 victory over Roger Federer on Wednesday to reach the semifinals.
He’s the first South African to reach the last four at the tournament since Kevin Curren in 1985. Curren went on to the final, where he lost to a 17-year-old Boris Becker.
It was truly the greatest performance of his career to date, even though he reached last year’s final of the US Open.
Anderson had stared a straight-sets defeat in the face as his evergreen Swiss opponent led 5-4 in the third set before Federer inexplicably wasted three set points.
South Africa’s leading player ultimately levelled to 5-5 and gained enough momentum to win the set 7-5.
“I just kept fighting,” he said afterwards.
In fact, Anderson had actually been improving with every game after looking clearly shell-shocked in the first set, illustrated by the relief on his face when Federer narrowly missed a net approach in the fifth game.
Summoning amazing mental strength, he broke Federer in the seventh game of the fourth set, using his brute power to rattle the No 1 seed and then galloped to a 6-4 fourth-set triumph.
The fifth and final set was every bit as dramatic as it should’ve been.
Federer had squandered a break point in the eighth game as Anderson, using his strong service game and sheer willpower, weathered the storm.
Things had become so tight that even the crowd was getting restless as Federer went to serve at 11-all.
But the physical toll was getting to the Swiss legend, who never reached the heights of the first set again.
He made a crucial double fault at 30-15 and Anderson, sniffing blood, took full advantage.
It was a mere formality after that as he served his way to a remarkable triumph.