ESTORIL, Portugal – Top seed Kevin Anderson said he is ready to kick-start his Roland Garros run-up at the Estoril Open, preferably by winning his maiden clay title.
The world number eight, beaten in last year’s US Open final by Rafael Nadal, has a bye to the second round, where he will face either the runner-up from Barcelona, Greek tyro Stefanos Tsitsipas, or Spain’s Pablo Andujar.
South African Anderson last competed a month ago in Miami, losing a quarter-final to Pablo Carreno Busta.
“I’m looking forward to the week, my first on clay this season,” Anderson said. “I’ve had time to prepare.
“I took some time off after Miami, I had some small aches and pains to deal with. But my body is feeling fine now, and I have high expectations.
“I’ve never won a title on clay – that would be a top goal for me.”
Anderson, a 2017 semi-finalist in Estoril, arrives in far better condition than last year when he was unseeded, ranked 66th in the world and returning from injury.
After beating 2015 champion Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals, he fell in the next round to Gilles Muller.
“Last year I was returning, it was a turnaround week for me,” Anderson said. “It was my first semi-final in some time.
“Now, a year later, I feel great, I’ve come quite a long way since then and improved my ranking.”
After facing Nadal in New York last September, Anderson continues to gain confidence, although he knows he is only as good as his last performance.
“Memories and experience from New York are a nice feeling, something you dream about,” he said.
“I’ve got the confidence that I’m able to perform in the Grand Slams. But each week is a different experience.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it’s who can play better on the day. Making the final was valuable, but you still have to bring your best tennis.”