Former world no. 5 and a two-time Major finalist Kevin Anderson gave his best against world no. 2 Novak Djokovic at the ATP Cup, losing 7-6, 7-6 after having his chances in both sets. Kevin had to skip all the action after Wimbledon last July, struggling with a knee injury that plagued his progress in the season behind us, winning just 11 matches and barely staying in the top-100 at the end of the year.
Those points mainly came from Pune where Kevin won the title a year ago, losing them in the second week of the season and dropping out from the top-140! The South African had been ranked in the top-100 since April 2010 before the streak had to end after that injury, missing the second part of the last season and entering only five ATP tournaments overall.
After three notable years at the University of Illinois, Anderson embraced a pro career, still ranked outside the top-500 on his 21st birthday! By the end of 2008, Kevin almost established himself as the top-100 player before suffering a setback in the next year, dealing with injuries and having to wait until 2010 to show his full potential, standing just outside the top-60.
In 2011, Anderson claimed the first ATP title in front of the home fans in Johannesburg and stayed on the uphill road to secure the place in the top-20, improving his game all the time and challenging the rivals from the top on both grass and hard court.
In 2017 and 2018, the South African played for the Major title in New York and London, losing to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic and cracking the top-5 after that loss to the Serb in July 2018. Kicking off the previous season ranked 6th and making a debut at the ATP Finals two months earlier, Anderson claimed the title in Pune before an early loss at the Australian Open, staying away from the court until Miami and never finding the form again.
The Johannesburg native had to undergo knee surgery in September, skipping all the tournaments after Wimbledon and working hard to make a strong comeback in 2020 and get back where he belongs. At the ATP Cup, the Australian Open and New York Open, Anderson won three out of six matches, making solid progress after surgery before a coronavirus halted the action on the ATP Tour at least until June, forcing all the players to sit at home and wait for a potential restart in June.
Speaking for the official ATP site, Anderson revealed what he had to go through in the last couple of years, giving his best to return to the court and play for the titles again. While waiting eagerly to compete again, Kevin is aware of the global pandemic virus that has gathered all the attention at the moment, wishing everyone to stay safe and healthy and hoping to play competitive tennis as soon as possible.
"My recovery went great; I think it's been really successful so far. I probably would have been ready for Monte-Carlo and the clay-court season. That's not going to happen now and I will stay at home, feeling like the toughest part of getting over the surgery and recovery has been done," Anderson told ATPTour.com.
"I feel quite confident where I am right now and I can maintain as much as I can while not being able to train properly; hopefully, when things settle down, and it's safer to go outside, I'll be able to resume and get back with my practice.
After my last tournament at the New York Open, it seemed that going on like this wouldn't make the most sense. Still, for the whole time I was in Australia and New York, I was told there was a chance I didn't need the surgery, so I was a little bit unlucky that I had to undergo it in the end; that's why I decided to get it done.
Each setback or obstacle is unique and you need to approach it differently. But having that experience in the past will help. Now I have to get over my surgery, which I have been doing an excellent job with. Besides that, we are faced with a sort of unprecedented time and, just like a lot of other players have expressed, the concern is more for globally getting this under control for many people; I think it's bigger than our sport right now.
The fires in Australia were terrible and that was a large-scale problem. What's going on right now is even larger than that, in terms of how many people it's affected in so many countries around the world. I think the biggest message is just trying to stay safe; it is important to try to spread those messages and to see where things settle.
I've been traveling with my guitar for years, it's something that I really enjoy; I'd say at home and play it when I can. It's much more challenging having a baby to look after and trying to help out when I can.
From a professional standpoint, it's always a bit of an uphill battle coming back. Even if the ATP Tour resumes in a few months, I have played only eight tournaments in the past year-and-a-half, with my ranking going down quite a lot.
If I stay healthy and keep trusting in my game, I'm going to give myself opportunities, fully believing I can get back there. That's the longterm goal right now; other things are happening right now and I just have to take it a day at a time."