Anderson powers into final
South Africa's hope, Kevin Anderson. (Gallo)
Johannesburg - Home favourite Kevin Anderson kept alive his hopes of a first career ATP World Tour title at the SA Tennis Open, with a 6-7 (3), 6-0, 6-4 semifinal win over France's Adrian Mannarino at Montecasino on Saturday.
The fourth-seeded South African will play unseeded Somdev Devvarman of India in Sunday's decider. Both men have lost in their only previous final appearance on tour, Anderson in Las Vegas in 2008 and Devvarman at his home tournament in Chennai in 2009.
Johannesburg-born Anderson leads 1-0 in head to heads over Devvarman after a straight-sets win at the 2010 U.S. Open.
Anderson was serving for the opening set at 5-3 against Mannarino, before a lapse saw his sixth-seeded opponent break back and clinch it in a tiebreak.
The South African double-faulted and then pushed a forehand long soon after for the break, letting Mannarino back in. The Frenchman took the tiebreak 7-3.
But the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) tall Anderson powered through the second set 6-0, and clinched a crucial break in the fifth game of the third to win in a little over 2 hours.
He sealed it with an ace on his first matchpoint, his 19th ace of the match.
Devvarman had earlier reached his first ATP final in two years by beating South African wild card Izak van der Merwe 6-2, 6-4. He improved his record to 4-0 over his much taller opponent.
Devvarman broke twice in the first set for a 4-0 lead, claiming the opener in 39 minutes as Van der Merwe struggled early in his first top-tier semifinal.
The home player rallied in the second but Devvarman broke again in the seventh game and served out a straightforward victory for his third win over a South African this week.
"I felt he was more nervous than me at the start and he made more mistakes and that helps in big matches," Devvarman said. "I don't want to come across as the bad guy, but it's good to win a few matches when the crowd is against you."
The unseeded Devvarman, who won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year, has dropped just one set at the tournament.
Devvarman landed 65 percent of his first serves while the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Van der Merwe could manage only 47 percent, despite his five aces.