Kevin Anderson will never have a better chance to reach a Grand Slam final.
South Africa’s top-ranked tennis player reached the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time when he upended Sam Querrey in the US Open quarter-finals in the early hours of Wednesday (New York time).
An open draw, thanks to the withdrawal of several stars from the year’s final major, no doubt aided Anderson’s cause, but he deserves credit for grabbing the initiative.
Anderson did not hold back against fellow big-server Querrey, blasting 67 winners which included 22 aces, as he silenced the partisan Arthur Ashe crowd.
Not holding back has always been the order of the day for Anderson and that’s the way he should enter his semi-final against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who earlier won a baseline slug-fest with Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
Anderson will be the favourite to defeat Carreno Busta, who does not possess the same weaponry as the 6-foot-8 (2.03m) giant South African.
Carreno Busta is mainly a counter puncher and, like most Spaniards, more adept on the slow European clay courts.
The hard court surface at Flushing Meadows is playing a bit slower this year, giving players like Carreno Busta a puncher's chance.
Anderson however boasts a 2-0 head-to-head win record against Carreno Busta and is yet to drop a set against the Spaniard.
Anderson won their first ATP World Tour meeting 6-3, 6-3 - on clay in Casablanca in 2013 - and also got the better of Carreno Busta last month, winning 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) at the Masters Series event in Montreal.
Anderson is the first South African male to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam singles draw since Wayne Ferreira at the 2003 Australian Open.
He will also have the chance to become the first South African to make the US Open final since Cliff Drysdale in 1965, when the tournament was called the US National Championships.
South Africans have to go all the way back to 1985 when one of their "own" made the final of Grand Slam.
Durban-born Kevin Curren was by then already an American citizen, but received fervent support from his country of birth before being upset by 17-year-old Boris Becker of Germany.
Before Curren, Pretoria-born Johan Kriek made headlines when he won back-to-back Australian Opens in 1981 and 1982.
Anderson will know that this is the best - and likely only - chance he'll ever get to reach a major final.
Winning it will however be an altogether mightier task, as either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal could wait at the other end of the net.
It may also be a long haul before another South African appears on tennis's biggest stage.
Apart from Anderson, there aren't many knocking on the door of the big time, with 20-year-old Lloyd Harris the next best South African at No 231 in the rankings.
Harris has however featured mainly on the second-rate Futures and Challenger circuits and is yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
Herman Mostert works at Sport24, is a struggling golfer and enjoys tennis...
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