CAPE TOWN – Kevin Anderson has done the unthinkable!
The 31-year-old South African is through to the US Open final after defeating Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 in the semi-final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night (Saturday morning SA time).
Anderson said earlier in the tournament that he would like to go deep at Flushing Meadows to inspire youngsters to take up tennis in South Africa, and his stirring effort from a set down will go a long way in achieving that goal.
He is the first South African to reach a Grand Slam final since Kevin Curren in 1984 at the Australian Open. Although Curren also played in the 1985 Wimbledon final, where he lost to a 17-year-old Boris Becker, he had become an American citizen just a few months earlier.
Watched by star South African golfers Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, as well as Bill Gates and Robert Redford at courtside, the tall Anderson made a confident start, but a slew of unforced errors marred his first set – and with nerves undoubtedly playing a role too in what was his first Grand Slam semi-final.
After a couple of aces in his first few games, Anderson was suddenly 15-40 down, and while he saved one break point, he lost the second to trail 4-3.
Carreno Busta held on to close out the set 6-4, and it looked like a long road back for Anderson, who clocked up 14 unforced errors in the 10 games to just one from his opponent.
But the man from Johannesburg – who is based in Florida these days – stuck to his guns and fought it out with the much shorter and quicker Carreno Busta in the second set.
Anderson broke serve to lead 3-1, but gave it right back, and appeared to fall into the trap of trying to slug it out from the baseline, with little finesse in his play.
But at 6-5 up he found his range, and finished off the set with a fine backhand to level the match.
Anderson had found his rhythm, and with his powerful groundstrokes becoming heavier, he also started mixing things up with a few low slices, as well as coming into the net at times.
While Carreno Busta saved three break points in his first service game of the third set, Anderson eventually made the breakthrough to go 3-1 up.
The Spanish 12th seed seemed to feel the effects of Anderson’s power game, and lost the sting in his own groundstrokes to lose the third set 6-3.
The big turnaround in Anderson’s approach was his ability to work the angles, and he pulled off some sensational forehand winners and solid volleys at the net.
The 28th seed broke Carreno Busta’s serve again to lead 3-2 in the fourth set, and was never in trouble again as he closed out the match to win the fourth set 6-4.
Now Anderson awaits the winner of the second semi-final later in the New York evening at Flushing Meadows between World No 1 Rafael Nadal and 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.
But first, Anderson is sure to enjoy the moment of having reached his first ever Grand Slam final!