Anderson banished 'choker' tag

2018-07-13 10:31
Kevin Anderson (AP)

Cape Town - Choker! One incisive commentator did not mince his words when he suggested it was "the dreaded word that makes athletes the world over cringe."

And despite his commendable career as South Africa's leading tennis player for close to a decade, making it to last year's US Open Final and reaching a prestigious and highly admirable world-best ranking of seventh, it was a description that some critics had suggested lingered around Kevin Anderson's otherwise undisputed tennis prowess after losing 12 of his 16 ATP finals, among them notably five-set losses in Grand Slam events despite winning the first two sets against the redoubtable Novak Djokovic (Wimbledon) and the less acclaimed Diego Schwartzman.

It was the deflating turnaround against Schwartzman, in particular, after demolishing the diminutive Argentinian 6-1, 6-2 in the opening two sets of an eventual distressing 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2 French Open fourth round defeat that raised doubts about Anderson's ability to muster his best on the biggest occasions.

Now, however, with his all but disbelieving, high quality comeback 2-6, 6-7 (5/7) 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 win in over four hours of torrid, turnaround  tennis against the imperious Roger Federer in his first Wimbledon quarter-final on Wednesday that the 6-foot-8 (2.03m) Anderson has truly walked tall while going a long way to banishing the choker image with which he had been fairly or unfairly linked on occasions.

Beyond dispute, Anderson's ultimate performance and recovery on this occasion was the antithesis of a choker, prompting the unequivocal praise from the usually deceptive and masterly Federer himself that "I could not fool him - he seemed to know what shots I was manufacturing and planning - and that was not a good feeling."

So, what next for Anderson after already having amassed a massive fortune in the past two weeks and a possible best-ever world ranking of sixth by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals against the United States' even-taller 6-foot-10 (2.08m) John Isner?

It's a chance of becoming the first South African ever to win a Wimbledon singles title if he goes on to beat Isner and either of the two other immensely formidable semi-finalists, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, in the final.

Anderson and Isner have been the most awesome servers at Wimbledon with well over 100 aces each already blasted mercilessly in the direction of their opponents, prompting the cynical belief that no matter how long their match lasts, all but a possibly deciding fifth set that has to be won by two clear games, will be decided in tie-breakers.

And, in the circumstances, it is fair to assume that which of the two holds his nerve best in dealing with the service bombardment will qualify for an even more daunting test against one of the world's all-time greats in the final.

Read more on:    atp tour  |  wimbledon  |  kevin anderson  |  tennis


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