Anderson makes finals debut
As far as draws go among the men’s elite of the tennis world‚ SA’s Kevin Anderson could not have hoped for a better opening match at the ATP Finals than against Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
Anderson‚ 32‚ is making his debut at the season-ending finale‚ which is a round-robin competition featuring the top eight players of the year.
Anderson opens his account on Sunday afternoon against Thiem at London’s O2 Arena in a rematch of their fourthround clash at the 2018 US Open‚ which Thiem won in straight sets.
South African doubles specialist Raven Klaasen is also in the elite field with New Zealand partner Michael Venus.
No SA singles player has won the ATP Finals but in 1977 Frew McMillan and Bob Hewitt won the doubles, while Piet Norval and Ellis Ferreira also won the doubles in 2000 and 2001 with American partners Donald Johnson and Rick Leach respectively.
Klaasen was runner-up in 2016 alongside American Rajeev Ram.
Anderson booked his place in the elite tournament by winning the Austrian Open late in October‚ his second ATP title of the season.
He has been drawn in Group Lleyton Hewitt alongside Switzerland’s Roger Federer‚ Thiem and Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
The other four players in the field – Serbia’s Novak Djokovic‚ Germany’s Alexander Zverev‚ Croatia’s Marin Cilic and American John Isner – are in the Group Guga Kuerten.
World No 2 Rafa Nadal and No 4 Juan Martin Del Potro withdrew due to injury‚ which allowed Nishikori and Isner to be included as the ninth and 10th seeds.
Overall, Anderson has won six of their eight clashes‚ but Thiem has won the last two‚ which have both come this season.
Federer looms as the favourite in Anderson’s group while Nishikori lost to Anderson in the final in Austria, but the Japanese player gained revenge with victory over Anderson in Paris last week.