Kevin Anderson has to dig deep again to advance at US Open

Kevin Anderson reacts after winning against US player John Isner during the final set tie-break of their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London on July 13 2018
Kevin Anderson reacts after winning against US player John Isner during the final set tie-break of their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London on July 13 2018
Image: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Kevin Anderson certainly doesn’t do tennis matches the easy way‚ and in the early hours of Tuesday morning he needed over four hours to advance to the second round of the 2018 US Open.

Anderson‚ 32‚ last year’s US Open finalist as well the 2018 Wimbledon runner-up‚ beat American world No 53 Ryan Harrison 7-6‚ 5-7‚ 4-6‚ 6-3‚ 6-4 in a four hour 14 minute match.

The 2.03m world No 5 Anderson‚ suffered severe cramps and it looked as if his quest for a first Grand Slam title would end early as Harrison took control by going two sets to one up.

Despite a time out for treatment for muscle cramp‚ Anderson showed his mettle to win the last two sets in just 88 minutes in front of a raucous pro American crowd.

“It was really tough. My body was struggling a little bit‚” Anderson said in a post-match interview.

“It was really hot and humid out there. I was losing a lot of fluids.

“I just love competing and love playing out here. It means a lot to me.

“I try my best for every single point. You don't win them all but the ones you do win‚ like this‚ definitely make all the hard work and the pain definitely worth it.”

In July Anderson needed over four hours to conquer Roger Federer in a sensational Wimbledon quarterfinal and he backed that up with a six hour 36 minute semifinal epic against John Isner‚ prevailing 24-22 in the fifth set.

While those matches reflect well on Anderson’s mental strength in five-set battles‚ they take a physical toll on his body. At Wimbledon‚ he was unable to play anywhere near his best tennis in the final‚ losing in straight sets to Novak Djokovic.

Progressing past the first round at Flushing Meadows in such a gruelling match in difficult conditions on Tuesday suggests that Anderson is in for another week or two of physical pain.

Anderson had four set points in the second set to go 2-0‚ but he didn't take them and Harrison won it. The American then went a break up in the third before Anderson sought medical treatment.

“Obviously it would have been nice to take one of those set points at the second. Things got a little dicey for me there‚ throughout the whole of the third‚” Anderson said.

But he remained composed despite going through a period of losing 12 put of 13 points in his second serve.

“Fortunately in the fourth and the fifth I was able to push off enough without cramping all the time‚” Anderson said.

“It was a really tough match. I really had to dig deep to get through that.”

Anderson will face Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the second round.

South Africa’s Lloyd Harris’ US Open adventure came to an end with a straight sets first round loss to France’s Gilles Simon earlier in the day.

Harris‚ though‚ fought through a gruelling qualifying campaign to reach the main draw and earned a career best $50000 (R770000)‚ which will fund his tennis for months to come.

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