Cape Town - A classy display from South Africa's Kevin Anderson saw him cruise through to the third round of the French Open with a four-set win over Nick Kyrgios on Thursday.
Anderson, who has never progressed beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros, will now meet Britain's Kyle Edmund in the third round on Saturday.
Kyrgios, as is so often the case, looked mentally weak on court against Anderson and the big-serving Saffer took full advantage.
After one of the biggest wins of his Grand Slam career, Anderson was in high spirits at his post-match press conference.
This is how it unfolded:
Q. Where does this win rate in terms of your clay court experience and career particularly?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, it's tough to say. I mean, I've had some, I feel, really memorable clay matches over the last few years. But, you know, just looking at today, I'm really happy to be through to the third round. I knew I was going to have to play very focused and, you know, overcome some challenges, which definitely was the case today.
Last year was pretty tough on me, going out early and just having quite a few difficulties. So it just feels great being healthy, just being able to compete and play and have my body, you know, manage that.
And so, you know, all things considered, it definitely feels it was a good day for me and I'm really happy to have gotten through.
Q. After falling behind there, what in your mind was the key to turning things around?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. There was I think a pretty good - I mean, a pretty big shift in the match there. You know, he's got one of the best serves definitely on tour. And, you know, sometimes it's really, really tough playing against that.
And I felt once I was down, you know, that early break in the second, I remember saying to myself I really needed to just try to find a way to get back into it. Because even though I felt I was playing okay, I just didn't think I was really going to get the job done.
And I came out at 4-3, I think, and just managed to scrap the few points. And I played a better return game the previous game, so maybe that gave me a little bit of confidence.
And once I broke, I felt that my level of competitiveness, you know, I really felt stuck into the match at that point. And before that, I kind of felt maybe a little bit on the outside. And part of that was just he wasn't really giving me too much to work with. He was really serving well. I had, you know, lost those two serve games in a row to really give him a pretty strong hold of the match.
But I'm really glad I was able to at least get back into it. And I thought I did a very good job of staying on top of him for the rest of the match.
Q. When you're facing a guy like Nick who is not necessarily always the steadiest, I guess we could say, player, is there a part of you that thinks, if I can hang on here, hang on, maybe there will be a moment where at his end, regardless of what you're doing, but at his end things could take a turn?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. I mean, I guess you definitely know that in the back of your mind going out on the court against him. I have played him once before in China last year in somewhat similar circumstances.
He was serving unbelievable, and he had match point in the second set and managed to get through it then. And I felt I was able to get on top of him in the third set there.
And after the second set, after him serving at 4-2 and really being in control and me sort of taking a set away from him I really felt if I could stay on top of him early on there was a chance that maybe he would give me a couple games here and there.
And especially, I think, the second break in the third set, his level definitely dipped a little bit then. And then starting out the fourth, I knew it was very important to just continue my level. I mean, I had to save a couple Love-40's there. And the next minute, you know, had I lost one of those games and he's up, he gains a bit more confidence and is fully focused again.
So it's really tricky. I thought I was really happy with the way I took care of my serve games. I had to dig out of a couple holes there. And I thought that I did quite a few things well to finish it off then.
Q. When a player vents as he did, on the one hand you have to shut it out. On the other hand, do you think, okay, I'm in his head now and this is my moment?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it's pretty tricky, because I definitely saw that I was in his head after winning that second set.
But at the same time, you just really have to execute and win the points that matter. And you can see that if you can do that, it's maybe going to make your life a little bit easier, and I think that's something I did really well today.
While he was sort of getting into his own head and struggling with some, you know, his own battles, I didn't give him a way to get back in the match. So it's something that I knew I needed to do, and I thought I was able to execute that very well today.
Q. After today's win, do you think some of the other players in the locker room will start worrying about the prospects of playing you, and how far do you think you can go now in the tournament?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. I feel like each week I'm playing better and better tennis. And, as I was saying earlier, my body feels really strong and healthy, which is the biggest focus.
For a while I feel like I've been hitting the ball as well as I've ever hit it in my career. It took me a little bit of time to try to find that same form on the match court. You know, when you're just away from competition it's impossible to simulate that.
And over the last few weeks, I've been getting more and more matches. I haven't had a massive result yet, but I've been working at that. But I definitely feel like the base that I'm building and the path I'm on is a good one. I trust it. So each match is another opportunity to do that.
And right now, in terms of how far I can go, I'm trying to separate that a little bit. I know it sounds very cliche, but I really focus on one match at a time and even more so what I'm trying to do, the way I'm trying to play and the way I'm competing. Because I know if do I that, I've had a lot of success in the past, and I think I'll have success doing that in the future.
Q. And next up Kyle Edmund. What do you make of his game and how much do you know about him?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, knowing Kyle for a few years now, I have never played him before. We just practiced once in Indian Wells this year, actually.
And I think he's had a lot of success in the last couple years. He's really taken that step up on the ATP level. And I'm expecting a very tough match. I think the clay suits a lot of areas of his game. I know he'll be very ready to go and he's a very strong competitor.
So there will be no free points. I'll have to take control of the match and play good tennis. He's not going to give me stuff for free. I'm going to fight for every point. I'm looking for forward to it. I think it will be a good match.
Q. What about now your physical condition or are you totally okay now? And secondly, do you have minimum target for this Roland Garros, for example, if you reach quarter-finals or semi-finals?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. My body feels healthy. I've been on the road for a few weeks now this European swing and playing long matches. I have played a few two- hour - actually, three two-hour plus matches in Geneva just last week.
Both of these matches were near three hours. So that definitely takes its toll. I mean, I work hard on my recovery. My physio and my whole team, each day I spend with that as a primary goal in mind.
So there's a few aches and pains, but that's normal for any tennis player. But I'm able to compete without being affected by any physical ailments, so that's a huge positive.
In terms of results, I think just what I said earlier is really each match I'm just so focused on playing the tennis that I want to play. And it's been a little tricky for me at times just being away from competition and not being able to execute the kind of tennis that I know I'm capable of.
But I know I'm getting closer each match. Each time I do that it's a mini victory for me, and I think I'm just going to take it as it comes. I mean, obviously, set my goals as far as I can, I mean, this tournament. But really, right now, my biggest focus is recovery tomorrow and then my match with Kyle Edmund on Saturday.