Anderson Cruises & Shapovalov Survives Thriller
If a player who has reached the championship match at two of the past four Grand Slam championships can fly under the radar, Kevin Anderson is doing just that. But last year's US Open runner-up once again looks a threat to make a deep run this fortnight, beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round in Flushing Meadows for the fifth consecutive year.
The South African got back on track Wednesday, after being forced to battle from two sets to one down in the first round against home favourite Ryan Harrison. The New York Open champion put on a crisp performance against the World No. 46, hitting 39 winners to just 22 unforced errors to advance after one hour, 57 minutes.
"All in all I actually was feeling pretty good, especially with how I felt after my last match. I'm really pleased with how my body responded," Anderson said. "I think I would have been okay if I had to go longer, but it's definitely nice when you can get off those matches in straight sets."
It was a timely effort from Anderson, who spent four hours and 14 minutes on the court on Monday to beat Harrison in five sets. He broke at four of nine opportunities, and was able to avoid facing any break points on his own serve, whereas Anderson had to confront 11 break points in his opening match.
Anderson is enjoying the best season of his career, pursuing his first appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Currently in seventh in the ATP Race To London, the 6'8" 32-year-old started the tournament 265 points ahead of Dominic Thiem for the eighth and final spot.
His play against Chardy to increase his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against the 31-year-old to 3-1 was impressive, considering the form the Frenchman had found at points this year. Chardy made the Libema Open final, and has also reached two more tour-level semi-finals in 2018.
In the third round, Anderson will face #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who battled from two sets to one down to beat Italian veteran Andreas Seppi 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4 in front of a jam-packed crowd on Court 5, with fans pouring into seats on the adjacent courts to catch the Canadian's victory.
"Obviously a really exciting player. He can be very aggressive, moves very well," Anderson said. "The vast majority of what I'll be doing will remain pretty much the same."
Shapovalov is no stranger to big matches, as he ousted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Arthur Ashe Stadium en route to the fourth round in New York a year ago. The youngest player in the Top 100, 19-year-old Shapovalov earned his first five-set win at a major against the Italian, hitting 55 winners in three hours and 47 minutes of play.
Did You Know?
Anderson is the highest-placed South African in ATP Rankings history, and he has finished four of the past five seasons inside the world's Top 20.