Cape Town - It might have been achieved against an enigmatic, if highly talented player who has cynically been
referred to as "the man who is scared to win".
Nevertheless, Kevin Anderson's
2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8), 6-3 opening round Wimbledon win over 35-year-old, unpredictable Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, can
justifiably rank among his best in the
blue riband tournament for a number of reasons.
In addition, it produced possibly the most thrilling and absorbing match on the opening day of
the All England Club's grand slam event.
What's more, with a strikingly opposite effect, it
banished the nightmare of last year's first round defeat at Wimbledon against
Uzbekistan journeyman Denis Istomin after the big-serving South African had won
the two opening sets.
On this occasion, instead of snatching defeat from the
jaws of victory, it was a case of forging a notable triumph from what was the
looming jaws of defeat.
As for Verdasco, who at one stage of his vacillating
career was ranked seventh in the world, it was yet another bitter setback after seemingly having victory in his grasp.
Irresistable while winning the first set while breaking
Anderson's ferocious serve twice, Verdasco also held the first mini-break of the second set
tiebreaker and, in all, had four service break opportunities to take a 2-1 set
Instead of maintaining his powerful left-handed
serve, Spain's wayward talent inexplicably
made the tactical blunder of trying to deceive Anderson with what cricketers
would have termed "a slow ball" at the most critical moment of the
match - and then followed it up with a double fault.
Earlier in his career, Verdasco's abundant
skill had prompted Andre Agassi's training camp to take the capricious
Spaniard under their wing in the expectation they had the makings of a grand
slam champion - only to end up frustrated and disappointed over the
inability to transform an immense talent into an appropriate degree of success.
Hence the "man who is scared to win" description was born - with
Anderson capitalising to the full on his opponent's temperamental shortcoming,
holding his own nerve in tightrope situations and sending down more than 25 match-deciding aces.
What's more, the
South African's prospects of a strong run at Wimbledon heading into his second
round match against Italian Andreas Seppi - who is not noted for his grass court
expertise - was further boosted by the first round defeat of fifth-seeded Stan
Wawrinka, who had loomed as a potential early opponent for Anderson.
An inviting situation, but can he maintain his revived