Shanghai - Having broken into the world's top 10, South African tennis star Kevin Anderson is
looking to further improve.
The newest member of the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings and one
of the tallest players on the ATP World Tour at 2.03m has been striding around
the grounds this week towering over the Chinese and many others at the Shanghai
Anderson has seen his confidence soar, too, as the first
South African to rank among the elite since Wayne Ferreira was No 10 in the
week beginning May 5, 1997.
It showed on Wednesday, when, out on Court 4 at the Qi Zhong
Forest Sports City Arena, he lost just seven of his first service points and
hit 15 aces in a 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) victory over in-form Italian Fabio Fognini.
Anderson is now 41-20 on the year, the best winning
percentage since his 2010 vintage (52-26, .670).
On Thursday, Anderson scored his first career win over No 6-ranked
Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori for a place in the quarter-finals.
In the quarter-finals on Friday, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France
beat Anderson in a titanic 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 6-4 thriller.
Having turned professional aged 21, eight years ago,
Anderson's journey has been marked by continual improvement ever since he left
the University of Illinois.
"It's always been a lifelong dream of mine,"
Anderson told ATPWorldTour.com.
"At that stage when I left college my first goal was to
break the Top 100. That was where my sights were set, but in the back of my
mind it was Top 10.
"Deep down I had the belief that if I could keep at it,
it was possible. I feel that each year since turning pro I've been able to
consistently improve all areas of my game and my ranking has improved. As time
has gone, I have made steady progress."
Almost two years ago, Anderson turned to Neville Godwin, a
serve-volleyer with a canny ability to analyse his opponents' games. As an
incredibly hard worker, often seen working on every aspect of his game and
physical conditioning for hours at a time, Anderson found that Godwin was the
perfect fit. Together, the support team developed.
"It has been a continuation of a lot of things,
learning from previous years," said Anderson.
"I've feel like I've put together a great team that has
assisted me along the road. From my side, I have a desire to keep improving and
looking at my game. That, coupled together with the team I have and more
experience, has been the biggest factors in getting me to the Top 10."
The turning point, when Anderson believed he could push on,
came at the Aegon Championships, played on the pristine lawns of The Queen's
Club in June. As the World No. 17, he overcame Lleyton Hewitt, Stan Wawrinka,
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Gilles Simon prior to finishing runner-up to Andy
Murray in the final.
"Making the finals at Queen's was definitely a good
tournament for me," admitted Anderson.
"I knew I was playing good tennis before that, but that
week I found myself playing at maybe a better and higher level; feeling very
comfortable doing that. I look at that and the tennis I was playing as a blue
print. Since then I've felt as if I have played close to that level or better
to boost my confidence and improve."
With a 16-5 match record since Queen's Club, Anderson's
highlights includes leading World No 1 Novak Djokovic by two sets to love at
Wimbledon, before losing 7-5 in the fifth set. He went on to break a
seven-match losing streak in ATP World Tour finals by lifting his third title
at the Winston-Salem Open, shortly prior to recording his first Top 10 win at a
Grand Slam against No 3-ranked Andy Murray at the US Open en route to the
"I'm constantly looking at ways to improve, and that's
a reason for me climbing higher," said Anderson. "I'd like to finish
the year as strong as I can, then in November and December it is back to the
drawing board. I enjoy that time of the year as I break down my game to