However, soon after Djokovic had gone on social media to show he had been reduced to playing a game of marbles on the locker room floor - a message punctuated with three laughing emojis - Anderson delivered the knockout blow to reach the Wimbledon final at the 10th time of asking. After more than a year of trouble, Djokovic finally had surgery in February, then took a while to find his groove.
With the time approaching 10pm, that made it highly unlikely there would be a victor and both players knew how important that third set was likely to be. Isner and Anderson, both giants capable of enormous serves, just kept blasting the ball past each other, trading service and sides of the court as the rules dictated, but rarely ever competing in a compelling rally.
Anderson agreed, adding: 'I really hope we can address this'.
Wimbledon bosses closed the roof before the start but a 23:00 curfew meant the match will resume at 13:00 on Saturday.
"You know, a few days' rest, maybe more than that, and I'll recoup an Isner said that being part of yet another record-breaking match did not help ease his pain".
The 33-year-old agreed with Anderson that all Slams should introduce a tiebreak in the final set and fall in line with the US Open.
Indeed, one tired spectator had had enough in the 27th game of a grueling fifth set that seemed to be dragging on with no end in sight as he heckled: "C'mon guys, we want to see Rafa!"
The only break point in set number two came in game nine when John saved it to keep his serve intact for another set, and this time he was the better player in the tie break, racing into a 5-0 lead and closing it 7-5 to level the overall score at 1-1 after two hours of play.
Kevin Anderson and John Isner called for Grand Slam chiefs to introduce a cut-off point for final set marathons after their Wimbledon semi-final entered the record books as the second longest ever singles match at a major.
In April, John Isner won his first career ATP World Masters 1000 title at the Miami Open.
Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum.
Anderson has 123 aces to his name.
Nadal was knocked out in the fourth round, losing 13-11 in the final set to Luxembourgish journeyman Gilles Müller. Or that a former Pakistani prime minister was arrested? - but observers at Centre Court were treated to a spectacle tough to pry their eyes from.
Most, but not all, signs point to an Isner win in this battle of the geriatric-i.e., over 30-giants. Anderson hasn't defeated Nadal in five previous encouters, while he holds a 1-5 ledger all-time against Djokovic.
Could we be about to see the sixth and last break of a match that would end up with 90 holds?