ATP Tour

Anderson shows glimpses of best form

Kevin Anderson (AP)
Kevin Anderson (AP)

Cape Town - Nothing could have been more redeeming in firmly placing back on track what has been a wavering, injury-plagued and declining tennis career over the past 18 months than a victory over the resurgent Rafael Nadal in the third round match in the Barcelona Open on Thursday.

Be that as it may, after a 6-3, 6-4 defeat against "The King of Clay", South Africa's No 1 tennis player Kevin Anderson finally demonstrated traces of his best form in Spain in beating notable clay-court exponents Carlos Berloc and David Ferrer and not being disgraced at all against the in-form Nadal.

The looming challenge confronting Anderson now is to maintain the improvement on a more consistent basis, regain an understandable wavering in confidence and banish the memory of results which resulted in his ranking slipping from 12th to a current 66th.

What has inserted a slice of intrigue and just a little uncertainty into what might previously have been reckoned a formality for the in-form Nadal after he secured a record-breaking 10th Monte Carlo Open success a mere week ago was the impressive manner in which the 6ft 8in South African big server accounted for another long-time Spanish stalwart, David Ferrer, in the 6-3 6-4 second round victory.

The diminutive Ferrer, although reaching a third world ranking and acclaimed for his never-say-die tenacity over a period of more than a decade, is no Nadal - and like Anderson, who for a brief period was rated at 10th in the world, he has faltered conspicuously from his previous high level while suffering the effect of injuries.

But the manner in which Anderson brushed aside the unending sequence of disappointments in 2016 and 2017 as though they had never happened to produce one of his best performances in the past two years and claw his way into the third round of an ATP tournament for the first time in 2017 was no less impressive than it was surprising.

Anderson never flinched against Nadal either and was beaten by a player who is feared to no small degree on clay surfaces by all and sundry after dropping his service once in each of the two sets.

Have the trying experiences which have blighted Anderson in 2016 and 2017 altered his view on representing South Africa again in the Davis Cup where his services would still seem to be invaluable after six years of self-imposed exile?

No sign of this yet, but who knows…

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