Cape Town - With a little bit of imagination it conjured up a picture of Samson being shorn of the source of his strength by Delilah in biblical times as Kevin Anderson's power base was trimmed at its roots by Dominic Thiem in a comprehensive and deflating fourth round defeat for the 2017 finalist in the US Open on Sunday.
More specifically, with the towering 2.03m South African usually relying overwhelmingly on his lethal serving prowess to gain domination and boost his confidence, the nimble and sweet-stroking Austrian hit on the ploy of receiving his opponent's usual thunderbolts from a position almost as far back as the line judges, with the tactics working perfectly and proving the foundation for a stunning 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2) victory that will leave Anderson plummeting from his heady fifth world ranking to ninth or lower next week.
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Needless to say, it required Thiem’s impeccable and sometimes ingenious ground strokes to assure the dramatic success of his enterprising, if somewhat unorthodox approach while, at the same time, revealing how much Anderson relies on a dominant serve to secure victories.
And, adding insult to injury, Thiem was also the more potent server in a game in which he dominated in all departments, while celebrating a day earlier his pending 25th birthday and reinforcing the recently waning argument that he has the talent and potential to emerge a Grand Slam winner one day should he consistently show the resolution that accounted so impressively for Anderson.
All in all, it has proved a conspicuously disappointing US Open from a South African viewpoint, with the seeded pairing of Raven Klaasen and his New Zealand partner, Michael Venus, plummeting out unexpectedly in the second round of the men's doubles - and although the country's 21-year-old number two, Lloyd Harris, performed commendably in qualifying for his first Grand Slam main draw, he was outplayed, if not disgraced by canny, near-veteran French baseliner Gilles Simon in the first round while going down 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
Ironically, despite the loss against Simon and unlike Anderson's pending ranking demotion, Harris' feat in making it through the qualifying segment and into the last 128 main draw will in all likelihood boost his world ranking substantially from what was a fast-improving career-best 145th into the 130s and maybe even lower - conjuring up the prospect of an elusive, prestige top 100 place not proving out of reach.