Anderson Eager To Start Season In Memphis
Kevin Anderson was more than ready to start fresh when the calendar turned to 2017.
Last season, the South African endured one of his more challenging years. He played fewer tournaments than usual, missing weeks of the season because of knee, ankle and shoulder injuries. He finished with a losing record, 17-21, for the first time since 2010.
To make the season especially forgettable, Anderson ended the season nursing another injury, this one to his right hip. The new derailment delayed the start to his 2017 season, forcing him to miss the ASB Classic in Auckland and the Australian Open last month.
“It was a little tough for quite some time. I was a little bit unsure of the course of treatment that I needed or if I needed to actually have surgery or not. Fortunately I was able to avoid surgery and rehab just conservatively,” Anderson told ATPWorldTour.com this week in Memphis.
The Johannesburg native went back to South Africa for a month of rehab and has spent the past two months at his home in Gulf Stream, Florida. But he's feeling better this week and is excited to start his 2017 season at the Memphis Open. “I'm feeling much healthier, and now I'm looking forward to getting my year started off here,” he said.
He has chosen a familiar place. The 6'8” right-hander has played at the Memphis Open four times. He lost in the first round in 2010 and 2011 and reached the second round in 2012. In 2015, the big-serving Anderson made the final before falling to Kei Nishikori, who celebrated his fourth consecutive Memphis Open crown last season.
The Japanese star is playing at the Argentina Open this week, though, so Memphis will crown a new champion. Perhaps the time off will benefit Anderson just like it helped a certain Swiss player last month in Australia, and the South African could be celebrating his fourth career ATP World Tour title – his third on U.S. soil – come Sunday.
“Obviously there's a little bit of a difference from the practice court, playing practice and getting onto the match court. But I'm really excited to start,” said Anderson, who has a 4-4 career record at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament.
The injuries of 2016 were especially frustrating for Anderson because he was playing his best tennis at the end of 2015. In October of that year, he cracked the Top 10 for the first time. He finished the season with a career-high year-end Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 12.
“I think I've done a pretty good job managing myself throughout [my career]. Obviously there's always niggles but I've never really had to take extended time off, which I've had to these last four months,” Anderson said. “It does come off at the back of a pretty tough 2016, where I was injured probably the most I've been injured throughout the year by quite a ways.”
This mid-February start marks the latest Anderson has begun an ATP World Tour season. He's played the Australian Open every year since 2008. It has also been years since Anderson started the season ranked even close to where he sits now, No. 74. He was ranked No. 161 in January 2010. He opens his Memphis stay against Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday.
The time away from the court wasn't all bad news for Anderson, though. He spent more time at home with his wife, Kelsey, and less time living out of suitcases and at airports.
“It is different,” he said. “I think after being at home several weeks you find a bit of a routine. Obviously I've still been working hard with my rehab and training but just going to your own bed, not travelling, you see the other side of life a little bit.”