An­der­son hopes to go one bet­ter in US Open

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - RACING - STU­ART HESS

UNLIKE the land of his birth, Kevin An­der­son’s an­nual fi­nan­cial state­ments for 2018 are in rude health, and his trip on Thurs­day even­ing to the New York Stock Ex­change may have in­cluded an in­quiry as to where to in­vest this year’s earn­ings.

With prize-money on the year stand­ing at nearly $3.25-mil­lion (R46m), ahead of the last Ma­jor of 2018, it’s been a fruit­ful pe­riod for the big South African, who along with Dan­ish star Caro­line Woz­ni­acki was given the hon­our of ring­ing the clos­ing bell at the NYSE.

The 32-year-old is back in the ‘Big Ap­ple’ where he an­nounced him­self a year ago as be­ing fit to op­er­ate among the sport’s elite with a stun­ning run to the fi­nal of the US Open.

Seeded 28, An­der­son took ad­van­tage of a draw that opened up for him as higher seeds like, Marin Cilic and Alex Zverev fell by the way­side to qual­ify for the fi­nal where he lost in straight sets to Rafael Nadal.

An­der­son has built on the con­fi­dence gained from that maiden Grand Slam fi­nal ap­pear­ance and has had ar­guably his best year as a pro­fes­sional. He’s qual­i­fied for four tour­na­ment fi­nals, in­clud­ing most mem­o­rably Wim­ble­don, won the New York Open in Fe­bru­ary and also played in the semi­fi­nal of the re­cent Mas­ters 1000 event in Toronto. In ad­di­tion he’s played in two other Mas­ters 1000 quar­ter­fi­nals this year, on clay, just to fur­ther un­der­line why he is de­serv­ing of his elite sta­tus.

An­der­son’s per­for­mances have at­tracted the at­ten­tion of some of the most ac­claimed play­ers in the his­tory of the sport. Aus­tralian legend Rod Laver told Reuters this week that he was among his top picks to win the US Open, along with No­vak Djokovic and Ar­gentina’s Juan Martin del Potro.

“Kevin An­der­son has got a lot to be proud of,” John McEn­roe, a four-time US Open cham­pion, said this week. “He got to the fi­nal last year and he backed it up with a great run at Wim­ble­don.”

If An­der­son has grown frus­trated with his thwarted Grand Slam ti­tle ef­forts, it has hardly shown ahead of the tour­na­ment. “The ex­pe­ri­ence and the con­fi­dence (last year’s tour­na­ment) gives me is very valu­able,” he told CBS Sports. “I’m just re­ally ex­cited to get out there and give my­self an­other good shot.”

An­der­son is cur­rently ranked fifth by the ATP and will hold that same seed­ing for the US Open that starts to­mor­row. The South African needs to tread care­fully how­ever. Be­cause of his run to the Open fi­nal last year, he’s got a large amount of rank­ing points – 1200 – to de­fend which will have an im­pact on whether he can qual­ify for the year-end ATP World Tour Fi­nals, the pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment re­served for the top eight play­ers of 2018 which will be played in Lon­don.

An­der­son has ac­cu­mu­lated 3270 points this year and is ranked at no.7 on the ATP’s ‘Race to Lon­don’ list, which is cur­rently topped by Nadal. An early exit at the US Open could leave him in jeop­ardy of drop­ping out of con­tention for the World Tour Fi­nals.

An­der­son was handed a tricky draw on Thurs­day, open­ing against Amer­i­can Ryan Har­ri­son, a 26-yearold cur­rently ranked at 56 in the world. Har­ri­son did beat An­der­son the last time the pair met in Tokyo last year, and given it’s his home ‘Slam’ will be keen to prove a point.

An­der­son is in Nadal’s quar­ter of the draw, mean­ing the two could have a re­match of last year’s fi­nal in the quar­ter­fi­nals this time. An­der­son is not the only one fly­ing the South African flag in the main draw of the mens sin­gles com­pe­ti­tion; on Friday 21 year old Capeto­nian Lloyd Har­ris qual­i­fied for his first Grand Slam.

Har­ris will face French veteran Gilles Si­mon.

Mean­while Kgothatso Mon­t­jane, who gar­nered the coun­try’s at­ten­tion when she made it to the semi­fi­nal of the wheel­chair event at Wim­ble­don, will also com­pete in New York next week. The 32-yearold secured about R1.5-mil­lion from 10 dif­fer­ent spon­sors to help fund her trip. “The Grand Slams are only the best in the world and it is go­ing to be chal­leng­ing,” she said.

KEVIN AN­DER­SON

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