London is proving a happy hunting ground for Kevin Anderson in 2018.
South Africa’s Wimbledon runner-up opened his campaign at the Nitto ATP Finals with a 6-3 7-6(10) win over Dominic Thiem that leaves him well set to reach Saturday’s semi-finals.
Despite being a newbie at the eight-man year-ending singles tournament, Anderson showed no nerves against the Austrian who is appearing for the third time at London’s O2 Arena.
Anderson was aggressive from the start, proved impregnable on his big first serve, and showed immense nerve in an 18-minute second set tiebreak.
Anderson’s pressure broke Thiem in the fourth game, and that clearly undermined the Austrian’s confidence, which is anyway more fragile on indoor hard court than on his favourite clay. The South African wrapped up the first set 6-3 in 41 minutes
Thiem picked up his level in the second set, in which neither man had a break point. That set up a tiebreak that saw both men have ample chances.
Anderson trailed 1-3, but fought back to level.
He had match points at 6-5, 8-7 and 10-9, but Thiem saved them all.
Thiem had two set points of his own at 7-6 and 9-8, but Anderson’s serve held firm.
Then at 10-10 Anderson hit a blistering forehand down the line to get the minibreak that set up his fourth match point but the first on his own serve, and he finished the job on his 13th ace.
In group play, Anderson still has to play both Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori, who were playing late Sunday night.
The winner will face Anderson tomorrow (Tue), with the loser playing the South African on Thursday.
Earlier, South Africa’s top doubles player Raven Klaasen lost his first match at the tournament, he and New Zealander Michael Venus going down 7-6 4-6 10-5 to Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.
But Klaasen and Venus can still qualify for Saturday’s semi-finals, and the set they won against Murray and Soares could prove vital in the round robin format.