6’8 South African Kevin Anderson has a great chance of being the last man standing in the depleted bottom half of the US Open draw. Early on this season, Anderson struggled to find form after recovering from a hip injury which caused him to miss the Australian Open. A recent resurgence this summer, and a new approach on how he plays the game, has helped him reach the Round of 16 in New York without dropping a set. At the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., Kevin Anderson starting being more positive on court, and seemingly out of nowhere started showing a lot of emotion throughout his matches. He ended up reaching the final that week, defeating Dominic Thiem and Jack Sock before falling to Alexander Zverev.
At 31 years old, Anderson finds himself three matches away from a Grand Slam final appearance and his new approach just might have him peaking at the right time to get there. You can certainly make the argument that Anderson hasn’t faced the toughest competition to date, but he’s winning his matches in dominant fashion, which helps throughout a physically grueling two week span. After Borna Coric defeated Alexander Zverev in the 2nd round, Anderson had to like his chances. He lost two matches this summer on the US hardcourt swing to Zverev, while he’s dominated Coric in previous meetings and Friday was no different with a 6-4 6-3 6-2 win over the Croatian.
Surprisingly, things will actually get easier for Anderson when he takes the court on Sunday. He faces veteran Italian Paolo Lorenzi, who reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career this week. It’s quite remarkable that Lorenzi has managed to put together such a successful season, reaching two ATP tour level finals, both on his preferred surface of clay. He doesn’t possess the biggest weapons on tour, but does make up for it with his consistency, and toughness on court. Anderson hasn’t had any problems with Lorenzi in their previous meetings (he’s 3-0), including a win at the 2013 Australian Open in four sets. Like Anderson, Lorenzi most likely realizes the opportunity that lies ahead of him and will want to make the most of it. He did record his best win of the season in the Round of 64 against the 19th seed Gilles Muller, so he’s definitely capable of knocking out the South African.
Seeing how the bottom half of the draw develops might be a nice change for tennis fans across the world. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing the Big Four play well in to the second week of Grand Slams, so it’ll be nice to see some new names take center stage. It has a little bit of everything too, which makes it interesting. Sam Querrey is the last American man standing at his home slam, Denis Shapovalov is the fairy tale story, Mischa Zverev is doing what everyone though his younger brother would be doing, little Diego Schwartzman is inspiring standing at 5’7″ (generously), but don’t be shocked if Kevin Anderson is the one that makes it through with his new and improved on court demeanor.
Embed from Getty Images