Ando Escapes Pablo At Roland Garros
Ever since losing in the first round of this year’s Australian Open, Kevin Anderson has been on a tear. The South African won his first tour-level title since 2015 in New York and advanced to at least the quarter-finals at four more events, including three at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000-level (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid). The run has helped him surge to a career-best No. 7 in the ATP Rankings.
Anderson continued his hot run Thursday on the terre battue, defeating six-time ATP World Tour clay-court champion Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 to advance to the third round, where he will face German Mischa Zverev. The left-hander beat Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-6(2), 6-1, despite having never won a main draw match at Roland Garros in six previous appearances.
Anderson leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 1-0, but that win came by virtue of a first-round retirement. The No. 6 seed seeks his fourth appearance in the Round of 16 at Roland Garros. One year ago, when Anderson made the fourth round for the third time, he was in a very different place. The 6’8” right-hander arrived in Paris the World No. 56, still working his way back from a myriad of injuries.
But this time around, the four-time ATP World Tour titlist, who reached the 2017 US Open final, is playing the best tennis of his life. Anderson is inching closer to 300 tour-level match wins, earning his 293rd against Cuevas (293-209).
For a moment, it appeared the Uruguayan was ready to earn his first FedEx ATP Head2Head win against Anderson in three attempts. Cuevas gained a 5/2 lead in the third-set tie-break, but the Top 10 stalwart won the next five points to gain the advantage, and carried the momentum into the fourth set. Anderson broke in the fifth game and dropped just three service points the rest of the way to claim his 22nd match win of 2018.
According to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats, John Isner moved ahead of Anderson for the No. 1 spot on the ATP World Tour in aces this season, hitting 38 to beat Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-7(8), 7-6(4), 7-6(2), 6-2 on Thursday. The American now has 476 aces in 2018, while the South African is right behind with 470.
Isner, whose best efforts in Paris came in 2014 and 2016 when he reached the Round of 16, will face one of two Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert for a spot in the fourth round. Herbert beat compatriot Jeremy Chardy 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 to advance.
" I might surprise you, but I think he's going to serve well," Herbert said. "I expect a match with maybe rallies that are not too long. But it's very hard mentally, because when you have someone who serves well, you have to be there mentally."
Despite losing the opening-set tie-break, Isner won tie-breaks in the second and third sets to take a commanding lead before rolling to a 4-0 advantage in the final set, a double-break edge he did not relinquish.
Did You Know?
When Kevin Anderson cracked the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on 12 October 2015, he managed to stay in the elite group for just one week. Since he reached his then-career-high ranking of No. 9 on 19 February 2018, he has stayed in the Top 10 for 13 consecutive weeks.