Johannesburg – Top South African tennis player Kevin Anderson squeezed past Romanian veteran Victor Hanescu 7-6 (6) 6-3 in a battle of the giants in the opening round of the R50-million Masters tournament at Indian Wells - and now faces the task of playing world number four David Ferrer.
Easing his way back into tournament play after undergoing elbow surgery following the Australian Open, the 6ft 8in Anderson struggled to gain the ascendancy over the 6ft 6in Hanescu and showed signs of his lengthy absence from the game in a match dominated by crunching serves.
The fourth-seeded, industrious Ferrer, who received a bye into the second round, will now present Anderson with a far more severe task, although the traditional fast hardcourts at Indian Wells will be a factor in Anderson's favour against the diminutive, relentless Spanish baseliner.
Anderson last week slumped from 29th in the ATP world rankings to 37th after failing to retain his Delray Beach title in his first comeback event, with the result that he did not receive one of the 32 seeding positions at Indian Wells and has to play Ferrer at an early stage.
Meanwhile, doubts continue as to whether Anderson will make himself available for next month's crucial Euro-Africa Group I Davis Cup tie against Poland in Warsaw.
“Negotiations with Anderson on the issue remain in the hands of Tennis South Africa CEO Ian Smith and I'm increasingly anxious to hear the outcome,” said South African team captain John-Laffnie de Jager.
“Anderson's presence is almost essential in order to overcome the powerful Polish combination if we are to quaify for World Group play-offs in September.”
Perennial South African Davis Cup stalwarts Rik De Voest, Izak van der Merwe and Raven Klaasen have all made themselvesavailable for the squad. – Sapa