Kevin Anderson, South Africa’s top ranked player and world number 32 played the best tennis of his life, Friday night knocking out NextGeneration tennis star Pablo Carreno Busta, to make his first U S Open final.
The 31 year old right handed South African player fought back from a set down to sweep out Busta in four sets 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4. His strong serve was the key as he played aces after aces, winners after winners overwhelming his teenage opponent.
He will meet World Number one Rafael Nadal in the final on Sunday.
Anderson, born in Johannesburg in May 1986 had never gone beyond the fourth round in more than a dozen appearances at Grand Slam events.
He was knocked out at Wimbledon in 2014, 2015 and this year in the fourth round. He also suffered the same fate in Australian Open in 2013-15. It was the same story at Roland Garros, where he could not proceed beyond the fourth round in 2013, 2014 and this year.
He became the top-ranked male South African player on 10 March 2008 after making the final at the 2008 Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas.
He achieved his career-high ranking of World No. 10 on 12 October 2015. He is the first South African to be ranked in the top 10 since Wayne Ferreira was No. 10 on 5 May 1997.
”It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point,” said Anderson, who will meet world number one Rafa Nadal in the final.
”It feels fantastic.
“It’s been a long road to get here and sometimes tough. We’ve been dominated by a select few individuals and there are definitely times where you think those will be the guys who willalways be competing for it.”
Anderson was late to the Tour after choosing to go to college in the United States, at the University of Illinois, where he was coached by Craig Tiley.
Tiley, a former South Africa Davis Cup captain and now the tournament director at the Australian Open, said Anderson deserves every moment of his success.
”He had the same professionalism and dedication and attitude that you see on the Tour today when he was at college,” Tiley told Reuters.
“Obviously he’s been on a long journey. But he’s always had a fantastic attitude and passion for the game. It was a privilege to coach him because of the attitude he had.”
Florida based Anderson is the first South African, born there to make a grand slam final since Kevin Curren at Wimbledon in 1985.
He will bid to go one better than Curren, who was runnerup at the 1984 Australian Open final before switching citizenship to the United States ahead of his run to the Wimbledon final.
Johan Kriek was the first South African to win a grand slam singles championship at the 1981 Australian Open but successfully defended the title in 1982 as a naturalised American.
* updated with Anderson’s comments and historical facts about other South African players