Kevin Anderson was absolutely delighted to reach a first Grand Slam final of his career after a four-sets victory over Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open and expressed his thanks in the direction of some of the ATP Tour’s absent stars following his success.
Kevin Anderson is one victory from joining a select group of South African sports champions by capturing his first Grand Slam title in Sunday’s US Open final against top-ranked Rafael Nadal.
Golfing compatriots and major winners Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen watched him win Friday on the New York hardcourts to reach the brink of a breakthrough win at 31.
In an era dominated by the ‘Big Four’, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were both forced to withdraw from the tournament due to elbow and hip injuries respectively, with three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka also missing out.
With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both ending up on the same draw, along with 2009 winner Juan Martin del Potro, there was only one Slam winner involved in the bottom half of the draw from the off.
And when 2014 champion Marin Cilic fell to Diego Schwartzman in the third round, it was guaranteed that there would be a new Grand Slam finalist in New York.
Anderson was fully aware of the opportunity that fell his way following the withdrawals of Djokovic and Murray and he cheekily thanked them after winning the biggest match of his career.
‘I really don’t know what to say right now,’ he said after beating Carreno Busta 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4.
‘I don’t know if the team hug is appropriate until the finals but it felt the right thing to do.
‘It’s been a long road. These Grand Slams are tough.
‘We’ve been privileged enough to play with some of the best players to have ever played the game and it’s nice that some of them gave us a bit of a shot to try and make a run this tournament.’
Anderson, the first South African in the US Open final since Cliff Drysdale in 1965 and the first in any Slam since Kevin Curren in 1984, won his three career ATP titles at the 2011 South Africa Open, 2012 Delray Beach Open and 2015 Winston-Salem Open.
His groundbreaking charge on the New York hardcourts came after a run to last month’s Washington final in a season where a hip injury forced major rehabilitation work to avoid surgery, causing him to miss January’s Australian Open.
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