Anderson: 'Nadal Never Goes Away'
It is a bolt out of the blue to some, but just reward for years of gradual improvements in Kevin Anderson’s eyes. Now the big-serving South African is backing himself like never before.
A maiden Grand Slam final may not have fallen his way on the scorecard after a straight-sets dismissal at the hands of Rafael Nadal, but it is a two-week stretch that has laid the foundations for the 31 year old to finish the year with a bang. The long road back from an injury-riddled 2016 and first half of 2017 only makes his run sweeter.
While defeat was still fresh, Anderson said once the dust had settled he would look back on his US Open run with only great memories. He came up against one of the game’s greats on the day and was forthcoming in his praise of what gave Nadal his edge.
“Definitely the first one, as I said quite a few times, is his competitiveness, consistency at that level. He never goes away,” Anderson said. “He brings that high energy every single point. I think that's probably one of the biggest ones.
“It goes without saying his groundstrokes, his movements, defensive skills, it all comes together. I think he blended that very well tonight against me.”
A projected return to No. 11 in the Emirates ATP Rankings puts Anderson within striking range of a career-high No. 10, achieved on the back of a quarter-final run at Flushing Meadows two years ago. Having started his season at World No. 80 it warrants a welcome rethink of goals for the remainder of 2017.
“The target of getting back to 10 is something I set myself a little while ago. I got off to a bit of a tough start at the beginning of the year, but this summer I have really put myself in a good position.
“I feel like when I'm taking care of the stuff I need to, the ranking will take care of itself. It's great to sit back at the end of the week and see the jump that I have made and the spots I have been able to climb, something I can be very proud of.
“Regardless of what happened these two weeks, I can take confidence. But I'm really going to have to reset and would love to have obviously a very strong finish to the year. I think maybe missing the beginning of the year has set me up well in terms of freshness.”
Two years ago, the South African finished a few spots shy of a maiden Nitto ATP Finals appearance. A strong finish to the year will put him well within the mix again for London.
“It would be great. That definitely wasn't on my radar sort of in March/April this year after missing the beginning,” Anderson said. “I felt it was right there. My body was healthy, I spent a lot of time on my physical conditioning and I was hitting the ball great.
“I just needed to find that form on the match court. I feel like I have really done that. Looking back at the summer, I have had some really good results. I've put myself in contention.”