Third time lucky for Anderson?

Kevin Anderson earned himself a legion of new fans after winning the hearts and minds of the tennis world during Wimbledon. It was Anderson’s semi-final showdown with John Isner that caught the world’s attention as the two giants slugged it out for over six and a half hours, which made it the longest Grand Slam semifinal of all time.

In the end, Anderson would prevail in this marathon encounter but it was his performance to the media directly afterwards that earned him the most respect from onlookers. The exhausted South African refused to celebrate and rather decided to sympathise with Isner after a duel where Anderson said, “At the end, you feel like this is a draw.”

It was a classy interview that Anderson gave and was a great advert for sportsmanship in tennis. Sadly, for the humble and hardworking South African, it wasn’t to be in the final as Novak Djokovic beat him in straight sets to claim his fourth Wimbledon title. Losing to the Serb would be his second Grand Slam final defeat in a year after going down to Rafael Nadal at the US Open final in 2017.

Even though Anderson didn’t win a maiden Wimbledon title, he still made history by being the first South African to appear in a Wimbledon final in 97 years. There are undoubtedly many positives to take away with one more Grand Slam to play this year. 

With the 2018 US Open only a month away, Anderson will be hoping that it’s third time lucky and that he is finally able to get his hands on a Grand Slam trophy. The disintegration of the Big Four is helping Anderson secure more of a foothold at the top of the men’s game. But, at 32, you do feel the South African will have to strike whilst the iron is hot or else look back on what could have been, as time waits for no man. 

Despite all of Anderson’s heroics over the last year, he is 33/1 to triumph at the US Open, which illustrates what an uphill battle he has on his hands. Djokovic is the favourite to win at Flushing Meadows, which is quite remarkable given he wasn’t sure whether he would play at Wimbledon after a quarterfinal defeat at Roland Garros in early June. It’s been an up-and-down few months for the Serb. But, in the blink of an eye, he now looks the most dangerous out of what is left of the Big Four. 

More so than ever it looks like a winner could come out of the chasing pack and that means it won’t just be Anderson who’s eyeing up the US Open as a chance to win a rare Grand Slam. Nadal and Federer will obviously be as big a threat as always, but their powers are waning with a younger crop of players smelling blood and ready to run them ragged.

Out of the last four US Opens, two have been won by players outside of the Big Four so history indicates that the face of the championship is beginning to change. Cilic and Wawrinka were the players to break the mould as, before 2014, nine of the 10 US Opens had been shared amongst Roger Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray. Now is the time for any player heading towards the end of their career to pounce and win their first Grand Slam.

Jennifer Carson is a recent sports journalism graduate and an avid follower of squash, tennis and lacrosse. She has previously written for publications including the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad and the Derby Telegraph.

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