PARIS – South Africa’s Kevin Anderson looked like he's well on his way to returning to his career-high ATP Ranking at Roland Garros. The former world number-10 dropped the first set against Nick Kyrgios but sprinted to the finish to advance to the third round with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win.
It's only the second time Anderson has reached the third round of a Grand Slam since his breakthrough Grand Slam performance at the 2015 US Open, when he beat Andy Murray to advance to his first quarter-final. The next month, Anderson reached number 10 in the ATP Rankings.
“I knew I was going to have to play very focused and overcome some challenges, which definitely was the case. Last year was pretty tough on me, going out early and just having quite a few difficulties,” said Anderson, who fell to French veteran Stephane Robert in last year's first round.
“So it just feels great being healthy, just being able to compete and play and have my body manage that. All things considered, it definitely feels like it was a good day for me and I'm really happy to have gotten through.”
The 6'8” right-hander has struggled with a myriad of injuries. He had to retire from two matches and withdraw from nine events last season because of injuries to his groin, ankle, left knee and right shoulder. His ranking fell to number 87 on January 16. But this season, a healthy Anderson has been on the comeback path, and Anderson, whose big-hitting game thrives on hard and grass courts, has excelled on clay. He beat David Ferrer in Barcelona, defeated Richard Gasquet to reach the semi-finals at the Millennium Estoril Open and advanced to the last eight in Geneva last week, falling to Kei Nishikori 7-6(6) in the third.
“For a while, I feel like I've been hitting the ball as well as I've ever hit it in my career. It took me a little bit of time to try to find that same form on the match court. When you're just away from competition, it's impossible to simulate that," he said.
"Over the last few weeks, I've been getting more and more matches. I haven't had a massive result yet, but I've been working at that. But I definitely feel like the base that I'm building and the path I'm on is a good one. I trust it,” Anderson said."
Anderson will next face Brit Kyle Edmund, who ended Argentine Renzo Olivo's magical Roland Garros run, 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, in just over two hours. Olivo had knocked out the 12th-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round.
“I know I'm going to have to play well to beat Anderson. He's obviously got a big game, a big guy. Hot conditions so the ball is really pinging around. So Saturday I've just got to be on it,” Edmund said.