Johannesburg – Top South African player Kevin Anderson sees his fourth round game against Andy Murray on Wimbledon’s hallowed Centre Court on Monday as “probably the biggest of my career.”
Should he beat the defending champion it would certainly be for an assortment of reasons the biggest and most publicised success of the gangling, 6ft 8in Anderson’s seven years on the ATP circuit.
And while he will start as the undoubted underdog in front of a packed, patriotic crowd, who have transferred focus on Murray for redeeming sporting glory following England’s deflating failures in the soccer World Cup, in particular, and the cricket test series against Sri Lanka, he is not without a chance of winning.
This is something Murray has acknowledged, describing the 20th seeded, big-serving Anderson as “a dangerous opponent who is playing the best tennis of his career.”
Indeed, in their two previous encounters, Murray and Anderson have shared the spoils with one victory apiece. with the Scot having demolished his South African opponent 6-1 6-1 6-2 in the 2010 Australian Open, but with the trend reversed and Murray suffering an equally comprehensive 6-3 6-1 defeat at the Montreal Masters event in 2011.
Murray, of course, will be seeking to retain the coveted Wimbledon title after last year memorably ending a 77-year jinx in which no British player since Fred Perry had annexed the most prized title in tennis on the home, grass surface.
But there are an assortment of inviting incentives for Anderson as well, Uppermost, perhaps, is that a victory would end a nagging jinx of sorts and enable him to reach his first grand slam quarter-final after now having gone as far as the fourth round for the fifth time.
It would also constitute the first time a South African has reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Wayne Ferreira achieved the feat 20 years ago, with Anderson already having matched for the first time Fereira’s performance of going as far as the fourth round in the tournament in 2000.
The outcome could well hinge on how Murray, one of the best returners in world tennis, handles the thunderous deliveries of Anderson, who is recognised as having one of the most lethal serves on the ATP circuit.
Murray has a greater feel and variety in his repertoire than Anderson and the South African is not under-estimating his task, describing his opponent as “multi-talented and undoubtedly one of the most gifted players in the world.”
But significantly, perhaps, Murray has struggled somewhat to regain the form that has won for him two grand slam titles, this after undergoing back surgery at the end of last year.
And while Murray has an overall record of 28 ATP titles and about R480-million in prize money that towers over Anderson’s two titles and R75-million in prize money, their records in 2014 alone are strikingly similar.
Both have been impressive in the current tournament, with Anderson overcoming a previous failing of becoming frustrated and faltering in tight corners when he came back to beat Italy’s enigmatic Fabio Fognini in five sets in the third round after trailing by two sets to one.
To stand a chance of beating Murray, however, he will have to play as well as he did while winning the last two sets 6-2 6-1 against Fognini -and possibly even a notch or two better. – Sapa