NEW YORK - Kevin Anderson is pleased to have played a role in shaking up the semi-final lineup at the US Open, with the South African due to face another player competing for the first time in a grand slam semi-final.
Anderson, who outlasted Sam Querrey in a big-hitting late-night quarter-final, will play for an undreamed-of grand slam final against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
“We are so accustomed for a decade of the same guys being there,” Anderson said. “Everybody involved in the tennis world is saying it’s been a wide-open draw. They are still tough matches, but people are used to the same guys being there.
"(The big four) have had such unbelievable consistency. Obviously it gives us a bit of a chance. With a couple of guys (Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic) unable to play this year, it gave some of the guys an opportunity to go deep into the tournament.”
Anderson said he has already achieved one of his goals after reaching his first grand slam semi: “One of my goals was to try and further my previous best result. I was able to do that, so that feels very good,” he said.
“I’m still in this tournament. I feel like I’m going to have another opportunity to go one step further.”
The South African is keen to take on his Spanish opposition.
“I’ll just try to do the same thing - really go out there and focus on what I’m trying to do. I’m going to have to. It will allow me to play my best tennis,” he said.
Meanwhile, Juan Martin Del Potro is eyeing another Roger-Rafa double, and there is no reason for him not to believe.
When he won the U.S. Open title in 2009, the then 20-year-old Argentine beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer back-to-back to win his first grand slam title.
Now, after three wrist surgeries that almost forced him to give up the sport, Del Potro will look to do it the other way round by following up his win over Federer on Wednesday with a victory over world number one Nadal in Friday night's semi-final.
“I know if I play my best tennis, I could be a danger for him,” Del Potro said after his best performance of the fortnight.
“Physically I’m not in the perfect condition, but when you play semi-finals of a grand slam, everything can happen, so you must be ready for the chance.
“Playing against Rafa in my favourite tournament, I will try to enjoy the atmosphere and the game.”
Del Potro’s stunning 7-5 3-6 7-6(8) 6-4 victory was all the more impressive as he had been forced to back up after a five-set victory over Dominic Thiem in the previous round, when he was still struggling with a virus.
After thundering forehands past Federer with incredible regularity, the 28-year-old is growing in confidence even if he believes that beating Nadal will take an even better performance than he produced against the Swiss.
“Tomorrow is going to be a different match than the past,” he said. “He’s the number one player in the world and he’s playing so confident. He’s a lefty guy, so he has a chance to find easily my backhand.
"So I don’t know what’s going to be my strategy. But for sure I will try to make winners with my forehands and don’t run too much, because my legs are tired. But it will be an interesting match.”
When they played in 2009, Del Potro smashed Nadal off the court with a blistering performance, dropping just six games.
Eight years on and after so many injuries, Del Potro’s backhand is not yet back to where it was but he was encouraged by the way it held up against Federer. “I think my backhand is improving every week,” he said.
Federer blamed troubled preparations for his quarter-final exit saying he had spent most of the time leading up to the year’s final grand slam worrying about his back instead of focusing on training.
The 36-year-old Swiss was chasing a 20th major title and was hoping to play Nadal for the first time at Flushing Meadows in the last four.
Reuters and DPA