ATP Tour

Injury cloud hangs over Kevin Anderson's future

Kevin Anderson (AP)
Kevin Anderson (AP)

Cape Town - The sombre announcement this week by Kevin Anderson that he will not take part in any further tennis tournaments in 2019 because of lingering shoulder and knee injuries will seriously affect his year-end world ranking and has indeed cast a cloud over his future.

After the heady successes of 2017 and 2018 in which he reached the finals of the US Open and Wimbledon Grand Slam events, the big-serving, 33-year-old South African top player progressed to the heights of scaling a world top five ranking.

But Anderson's ranking from a limited, enforced programme of five events in 2019, including early exits in the Australian Open and Wimbledon, has transformed his world ranking to 18th and plummeted him to a current 76th position in accumulating points for the year - and will now almost certainly result in a year-end ranking in the vicinity of a modest 100 because of the premature halt to tournament action.

In addition, because of Anderson's ranking decline and understandable doubts surrounding his availability for the ATP's inaugural World Team Cup in January, South Africa's assured qualification for the event in Australia must now be in jeopardy.

What is possibly the most daunting obstacle facing Anderson when he attempts his projected comeback in the New Year, is that while the ATP rule regarding the protection for players suffering lengthy injuries or ill-health, will assure him acceptance into tournaments for a specific period, it will not enable him to receive a seeding and this could mean in the worst circumstances coming up against players of the ability of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as early as the opening round.   

Comebacks, in addition, after limited competition are fraught with additional challenges for players of Anderson's age.

Ask, for example, Britain's knighted former world No 1, Andy Murray, who attempted to make his return to singles prominence through doubles events, but has since found it necessary to compete in second-tier Challenger singles - and still with slow and limited success.

What is Murray's world ranking right now? One needs to descend to the depths of 415th to find the answer!

Anderson, after encountering what he describes as "a difficult, frustrating year," in which he missed the entire clay court circuit and then withdrew without playing a game from five successive tournaments, including the recent US Open, may not have experienced the same serious surgery that has made Murray's comeback so difficult.

But with his ingrained reliance on a dynamic serve in the past, a complete recovery from his right shoulder and knee complaints will surely be needed to make the lanky Anderson the formidable player he once was.

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