Kevin Anderson and Lloyd Harris are South Africa’s hopefuls at this year’s Wimbledon tournament, which starts tomorrow.
Last year, Anderson became the second South African to make it through to the men’s final – nearly 100 years after Brian Norton appeared in the 1921 final. Kevin Curran, who lost the 1985 final to a teenaged Boris Becker, played as an American that year.
The Johannesburg-born Anderson, who in 2017 lost the final of the US Open, is seeded fourth and was drawn against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round.
On Friday, Anderson started the tournament by hitting some balls with Harris, with both of their mothers watching from the sidelines.
Harris, who earlier in the year won his first match at a grand slam when he beat Lukáš Rosol in the first round of the French Open, has been drawn in the second seed against another player with South African ties, Roger Federer.
Speaking ahead of the draw, Harris said he was excited ahead of his first Wimbledon appearance: “I have had good preparations on grass despite having lost two of my previous matches leading up to the tournament. I will prepare myself to come out and to play my best in the first round.”
Rafael Nadal’s incredible twelfth title at Roland Garros ended Novak Djokovic’s streak of three consecutive grand slam triumphs, but he often struggles to replicate such form on grass. However, the Spaniard’s victory was a timely reminder that, on his day and preferred surface, he can be unplayable.
The other South African hopeful, doubles specialist Raven Klaasen, comes in with plenty of form. Alongside New Zealand’s Michael Venus, the Cape Town-based Klaasen lifted the Halle Open title in Germany last week on grass, edging past top seeds Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot to lift his first title of the year.
Just like Anderson, Klaasen was beaten in the Wimbledon final last year – the Mike Bryan and Jack Sock pair took the crown in a five-set victory. At 36 years old, Klaasen knows that he has limited chances to win at Wimbledon.
“It is exciting to be back in London. Playing on grass at Wimbledon is my favourite time and event of the year,” he said.
On the women’s side, the recently crowned French Open champion Ashleigh Barty is one of the favourites to go all the way, with her signature slice backhand a key skill on the low bouncing grass.
Although Serena Williams can never be ruled out of the running, it seems unlikely that she will win as she has yet to demonstrate the consistency required to win seven matches in a row at the highest level.
Naomi Osaka and defending champ Angelique Kerber are ones to watch.