Anderson Battles Into Third Final Of 2018
It took Kevin Anderson more than two years to capture his fourth ATP World title. But after defeating 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Jared Donaldson 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC on Friday evening, the 2014 Acapulco finalist is now just one victory away from winning his second trophy in a row.
"It just feels great to win tonight's match," Anderson said. "When you're out there, you're not really thinking about finals and what happened before. In the heat of the battle, I thought it was a really tough match."
After triumphing at the New York Open two weeks ago in his most recent event, Anderson will get a crack at his fifth trophy on Saturday. The South African, who is now at a career-high No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, will play sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro in his third final of the season (1-1, l. in Pune, w. New York). Del Potro beat second seed Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2.
Anderson fell to as low as World No. 80 last January after a variety of injuries and health issues set the right-hander back. But since then, he has made five tour-level finals (Washington D.C., US Open, Pune, New York, Acapulco), in a run that includes a runner-up finish at last year’s US Open.
The semi-final appeared completely in his hands at the beginning of the second set, as Anderson's massive serving and court positioning kept Donaldson from clawing his way into neutral rallies. The fifth seed held five break points in the first game of the second set to grab a commanding lead, but failed to convert. The fifth seed was still controlling play, though, and lost just four points in his first three service games of the set.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Donaldson began to find greater length on his returns, keeping Anderson back, which then allowed the 21-year-old to play more aggressively. The American used that slight opening to not only earn his first break point of the match at 4-3, but go on to break twice in a row to claim the second set.
But Anderson, who is now 11-2 on the season, had too much experience in the moment, breaking to open the decider and gain a lead he would not relinquish. Anderson struck 18 aces in the victory, and hit a wicked inside-out forehand winner to clinch the battle.
"I really felt I did well just fighting as hard as I could," Anderson said. "The match point felt great to really go after it and execute the way I wanted to. So, right now I'm just really pleased to be through to the finals here. I have a shot at playing for a title."
It was a strong week for Donaldson despite the loss, as the 21-year-old American reached his first tour-level semi-final. Donaldson is projected to climb to a career-high No. 48 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
Anderson will face a tough test on Saturday. The 31-year-old has dropped his past six sets against Del Potro, and has fallen short in all six of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
"It's another opportunity for me," Anderson said. "I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I'm playing great tennis. [It's] just about recovering and resting up right now and being as prepared as possible for tomorrow."
Blockbuster Doubles Final Set
Defending champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares have won three tour-level titles in each of the past two seasons. On Saturday in Acapulco, they’ll have a chance to earn their first trophy of 2018 after defeating last week’s finalists in Rio de Janeiro, Nikola Metic and Alexander Peya, 7-5, 6-3. The pair seeks its seventh tour-level title together.
They won’t have it easy in the final, coming up against the duo that has triumphed more than any other pair in history — Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who have captured 114 tour-level titles together. The fourth seeds ousted their compatriots, Americans Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock, 7-5, 1-6, 10/8. The twin brothers won the Acapulco trophy in 2002 and 2004.
Bryan/Bryan lead the FedEx ATP Head2Head series between the two teams 2-1, with two of the three meetings (1-1) coming at the Nitto ATP Finals (2016, 2017).
Did You Know?
Anderson won his third ATP World Tour title at 2015 Winston-Salem, but needed more than two years to capture his fourth, which came at the inaugural New York Open in February (d. Querrey).