JOHANNESBURG – Kevin Anderson reached two major milestones over the weekend, becoming the first South African singles player in 23 years to book a place for the Nitto ATP Finals after securing a career-best title at the Erste Bank Open 500 on Sunday.
He was the sixth player to secure his berth for the year-end event which will involve the top eight players in the race to the finals.
Anderson joins Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev, with the final two places to be decided at this week’s Rolex Paris Masters.
“It’s been a huge goal of mine all year to make London,” said Anderson. “I’ve said that right from the beginning, so to finally put my name there, it feels fantastic.
“I felt I came pretty close in the two previous seasons, but I missed out on it. I think it’s one of our biggest tournaments of the year, really celebrates the top-8 players of the year.
Anderson follows in the footsteps of Wayne Ferreira, who featured at the 1995 ATP Finals in Frankfurt, Germany where he went 2-1 in round-robin play.
The South African climbed two places on the ATP rankings after beating Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 in the final of the Erste Bank Open.
He appeared in his fifth tour-level final of the season, winning his second trophy of the year adding to the New York Open title he won in February.
The ATP World Tour 500 trophy is the biggest title of his career, with his previous titles only coming in ATP World Tour 250-level events in Johannesburg, Delray Beach, Winston-Salem and New York.
He reached a career-high number-five world ranking after featuring at his second Grand Slam final at Wimbledon where he bowed the knee to Djokovic.
Johannesburg-born Anderson became the highest-ranked South African in ATP rankings history since 1973.
“You have to win a lot of big matches against the best opponents in the world to book your spot there, so it’s fantastic to be among the best eight players in the world,” Anderson said. “And just London, the event itself, I’ve heard so much about it - a great arena, a great atmosphere - and to do it by winning my first 500 here in Vienna, as well, is a great combination.”
Anderson will finish the year in the top-10 of the rankings for the first time in his career and he has been among the top-20 best for the past six seasons.
His best ever year-end finish on the rankings was his 12th place in 2015.@ockertde