On Centre Court, the three-time champion broke serve twice for the first set advantage but endured a blip in the second as Nishikori sprinted 4-1 ahead to even the contest. I nearly could have.
After saving a match point in the third set, he rallied to win, 2-6, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11, and record what felt like the biggest victory of his long career - quite a statement for a man who reached the US Open final past year. We thought he could lose to maybe somebody else, but not necessarily Anderson, who hasn't had huge success coming into this tournament.
"Beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon will be one I remember". Anderson, after saving a match point on his serve in the 10th game, broke Federer's serve in the ensuing game and then clinched the set with a final service hold.
Djokovic takes on second seed and world No 1 Nadal tomorrow.
Instead, it's the South African who is into his first Wimbledon semifinal after a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 marathon win. Flying under the radar, he saw off Norbert Gombos, Andreas Seppi, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils en route to the quarterfinals, dropping just two sets in the process.
On Wednesday, they lost 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to Xu Yifan of China and Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada. But Anderson held his nerve to level up and then produced a remarkable surge in form to take Federer deep into the fifth set.
The Centre Court spectators, who included the Duchess of Cornwall, Rory McIlroy and Sir Richard Branson watching on from the Royal Box, were wowed by two highlight-reel rallies in the first five games. "I'm up two sets to one, it's all good".
Nishikori fought hard, but the signs of wear and tear from playing a foe of Djokovic's quality became apparent when he dropped three breaks in the fourth, decisive set, running out of steam opposite a relentless force.
Federer refused to blame the defeat on the fact he was playing on the unfamiliar surroundings of Court One for the first time in three years.
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Djokovic reached his eighth Wimbledon semi-final and 32nd at the majors after a stormy Centre Court clash against Nishikori. So far the four matches have been really, really good for me'. I just kept saying "today is going to be your day".
Roger Federer was a point away from a rather tidy, straight-set victory in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Nadal, who's won two of his 17 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, edged 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a wildly entertaining match that featured diving shots by both and lasted 4 hours, 48 minutes.
Next up for Anderson is the 6-foot-10 Isner, into his first Grand Slam semifinal in his 41st try.
"The losses hurt more, you don't want to be on the loser's side", he said. I wanted to put myself in these positions.
His absence paves the way for his arch rival, Rafa Nadal, to win a third Wimbledon title, which would narrow the Grand Slam gap between the sport's best players.
Nadal could gain the most out of Federer's absence.
And Federer, 36, insisted losing will only motivate him to return to Wimbledon again next year. To be honest, I didn't feel mental fatigue. "I'm pleased I'll be staying there right now".
Wimbledon continues Thursday with the women's semifinals: Serena Williams vs.
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