SA's Kevin Anderson to meet Rafael Nadal in US Open final
Anderson became the first South African since Kevin Curren at Wimbledon in 1985 to make the final of a tennis major
Kevin Anderson overcame a slow start of unforced errors to become the first South African in 32 years to reach a grand slam final after winning his US Open semifinal at Flushing Meadows on Saturday morning.
The 28th seed beat Spain’s No 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 to set up a showdown on Sunday against No 1 seed Rafael Nadal who defeated 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro in the second semi.
Anderson‚ 31‚ became the first South African since Kevin Curren at Wimbledon in 1985 to make the final of a tennis major and the highest seeded player into a grand slam final since the rankings began in 1973.
The 2.03m tall South African used his massive serve to bludgeon the agile and mobile Spaniard‚ sending down 22 aces.
But on the negative side of the ledger he made a total of43 unforced errors – over a third of all Carreno Busta’s points in the match.
But it is a dramatic comeback for a man who was plagued by injury throughout the latter half of 2016 and saw his ranking slip to 80‚ from a career high 10 in October 2015.
An overjoyed Anderson climbed into the stands to embrace his coach Neville Godwin and wife Kelsey and apologised immediately afterwards.
“I really don’t know what to say right now and I don’t if a team hug is appropriate for the semi-final‚ but it felt like the right thing to do‚” Anderson said.
“These grand slams are tough and we have been privileged to have played with some ofthe best players to have ever played the game. It’s nice that some of them gave us a shotto make a run at it this time.
“This is why I work so hard and I was pretty nervous starting out‚ and I’m sure Pablo was too. I really had to dig deep to get into the game and my emotion at the end summed it up.
I’m over the moon‚ I have one more match‚ but I’m going to enjoy this win tonight.
“It was difficult at the end of last year because I was told I needed to have surgery on my hip. I’d just like to thank my physio Carlos Costa for keeping me healthy and a guy called Richard Sutton back in South Africa‚ who played an instrumental part in getting my hip healthy.
“Nine months ago I thought I faced surgery and year of rehab and here I am. It means the world to me.”
Anderson started the match with an ace and won 12 of the first 13 points on his serve.
But he kept dishing up unforced errors that allowed the Spaniard to stay with him and surprisingly it was Carreno Busta who broke Anderson’s serve in the seventh game after Anderson hit a backhand long.
Anderson took Carreno Busta to deuce for the first time in the match in the 10 th game‚ but the Spaniard came up with an ace and an unplayable serve to take the first set. Anderson made 14 unforced errors in the set while Carreno Busta made one.
Anderson started playing more aggressively in the second set‚ going for power when returning the mild Carreno Busta serve‚ and it paid off.
He broke in the third game with a cleverly angled inside out forehand winner‚ but gave it immediately back when the Spaniard played three otherworldly passing shots.
It didn’t rattle Anderson though and a rasping crosscourt backhand in the 12th game gave the South African the set.
At that stage Carreno Busta was on the ropes as he proceeded to lose four of the next five games with Anderson running into a 4-1 third set lead. The South African closed out the set in the ninth game with two aces.
The pair traded two service games each in the fourth set before Anderson cracked his opponent in the fifth game before closing it out in nervy 10 th game that included a 38 shot rally opening point.
But when the Spaniard hit a tired forehand into the net‚ Anderson was through and South African tennis received a huge boost.