Cape Town - It was a sweet Mother’s Day for top South African tennis player Kevin Anderson as he ended a nightmarish, injury-plagued four months without a win in the first round of the current Italian Open Masters tournament at the Foro Italico in Rome.
The 29-year-old Anderson, whose world ranking has slipped from 12th at the start of the year to 19th, beat 23rd-ranked Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) in a clash of big servers.
It was his first elusive win on the ATP circuit since beating Robin Haase in the second round of the Auckland Open in January before losing to American Jack Sock in the quarter-finals.
In the interim, while battling shoulder, knee and ankle injuries in turn, Anderson retired during his opening games in the Australian Open and the Delray Open against modest opponents in Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek - and then in a comeback in the Madrid Open last week he went down 6-4, 6-1 in the first round against an inventive Gael Monfils.
The belated win over Lopez proved a timely one, with Anderson tweeting this Mother's Day message: "Happy Mother's Day to my number one fan since day one. Thanks for always being there and helping me chase my dreams. Love you mum."
Anderson is now due to play 114th-ranked Argentinian clay-court specialist Juan Monaco, another player who has been hampered by injuries in recent times, in the second round at the Foro Italico.
And, with the French Open looming on the horizon later this month, the 6ft 8in Anderson will be hoping for an extended and much-needed run in Rome before the Grand Slam event at Roland Garros.
A victory over Monaco could pit the South African against Stan Wawrinka against whom he has enjoyed some of his most impressive results, despite the Swiss player's No 4 world ranking.