The 32-year-old Anderson won the 2006 NCAA doubles title with Ryan Rowe during his Illini career, and the native of South Africa earned All-American honors in each of his three seasons at IL.
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.
"I just kept on telling myself I have to continue believing".
"Down 2-0 I tried my best to keep fighting and was able to scrape through and by the end I thought I did a great job".
Federer, the defending champion, had to play away from Centre Court for the first time since 2015, on No...
Serving with a deceptive languor, Federer was secure and invulnerable, while Anderson struggled to hold his own, handing Federer a second break and a 5-2 lead.
Federer has looked in imperious form throughout the opening week, progressing to the last eight without dropping a set and his service game, but Kevin Anderson stunned the former world No 1 in a quarter-final epic.
Reaching his first grand slam final at the US Open a year ago, where he lost to Nadal, gave him great confidence and it was noticeable even early on that he was able to push Federer back, a rare sight, especially on grass.
Two-time champion Nadal is through to the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time since 2011.
Entering Wednesday, Federer had a 32-set winning streak at Wimbledon.
As the match progressed, Anderson's serve, a formidable weapon, began finding the corners, helping to pull himself out of trouble when needed.
Federer's forehand, which had been so sharp in the early going, started producing errors. Raonic never broke Isner's serve, and while Isner broke Raonic's serve just three times, it was just enough to move on.
But at each critical juncture, the 6-foot-8 Anderson, who had not beaten Federer in four previous meetings, was unshakable, maintaining his power, belief and courage for the 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 victory.
The Swiss lost the set in a flurry of aces, with Anderson's relentless, powerful serve sending the match into a decider. He won only 3 of 12 break points on Anderson's serve in the match.
Federer mishit a backhand to see that opportunity erased as Anderson held firm with a powerful serve to ensure the match would continue. "It wasn't bad, but average", he said.
"It just took me a little bit of time to find my legs in the competitive atmosphere".
"I think Rafa and Del Potro had to be on Centre Court", Murray told BBC. "I felt I was playing better tennis, so that was motivating for me as well to keep at it", said Florida-based Anderson who is applying for USA citizenship. I think that's not fair. "That's my problem really".