An­der­son makes fi­nals de­but

The Herald (South Africa) - - Sport - Craig Ray

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.

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