Johannesburg - South African tennis ace Kevin Anderson is ready for his fourth round clash against fifth seeded Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic on Sunday. Speaking from Melbourne, Anderson acknowledged he was in for a "tough match" against Berdych but he felt "confident and ready to play".
On Friday Anderson upset Spanish star Fernando Verdasco 4-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 6-2 to become the first South African man to reach the 4th round of a Grand Slam since Wayne Ferreira in 2003. " I saw Wayne at the courts today, and it means a lot to be able to match some of his achievements," said Anderson. " Wayne made it to the semi-finals, and more than once, so I still have some ways to go to match those performances" said Anderson.
Berdych and Anderson met four times last year, including the third round at Melbourne Park. Berdych has won all of their previous encounters, but did have to come back from 2-sets-to-one down at Roland Garros.
Anderson said he had a lot of respect for Berdych.
"We have played each other a few times and Tomas has won each time. But I have been close and feel confident, especially on my favourite surface. But Tomas has been a permanent fixture in the Top 10 since 2010 and with eight singles titles to his name, he is going to be a real challenge".
Should Anderson beat Berdych he will become only the fifth South African man to reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. Others to achieve this were Cliff Drysdale, Johan Kriek, Kevin Curren and Wayne Ferreira.
The winner of the Anderson/Berdych match will play either first seed Novak Djokovic or 15h seed Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.
In a bonus, Anderson teamed up with Israeli doubles specialist Joni Erlich to reach the third round of the doubles. The two upset the defending champions Leander Paes (India) and Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) in the 1st round and then took out Australians Matthew Barton and John Millman 6-1 6-7 6-3 on Saturday.
Anderson said he was overwhelmed with all the support he had receivedfrom South Africans around the world.
"It's been really amazing to see our rainbow nation's flag in the stands and hear the vocal South African support. It makes it a lot easier to achieve out there when you have great support. I am so grateful and thankful for all those in Melbourne, at home and elsewhere for their support and belief in me."