A beaten Kevin Anderson, after he lost his second grand slam final, partially blamed the defeat on fatigue and nerves after a ruthless Novak Djokovic showed no mercy as he won in straight sets on Sunday.
It took Anderson more than 10 hours of epic tennis in the quarter-finals and semi-finals where he showed phenomenal mental and physical strength before reaching the finals. This time around he failed to defy fatigue and performance at his best.
The South African was still proud of his efforts and felt that his game is getting better as he jumped to a career-best number five in the latest ATP Singles Rankings after reaching his maiden Wimbledon final.
The two-times grand slam finalist said his body didn’t feel great.
“I mean I don’t think you are going to expect it to feel great this deep into a tournament. You have played so much tennis but I was definitely quite nervous starting off the match. I didn’t play great tennis in the beginning, felt much better in the third set.’’
Anybody would have struggled to defy fatigue and play their best tennis after playing back to back brutal matches with little rest before the final. Apart from anything else, his game against John Isner was the second longest match in Wimbledon history and he took more than four hours to beat the great Roger Federer to make it into the final phase of this prestigious match.
Asked if he felt good coming into the final, he said on Saturday that it was pretty tough. There were a lot of thoughts going through his mind, doubting whether he was going to be ready to play another three out of five sets on Sunday against somebody like Djokovic.
”You know getting here on the court and seeing the doctors, my podiatrist for my feet, you go through certain exercises that I do and when things aren’t feeling the way they should you always have a little bit of doubt. I hardly slept on Friday night but on Saturday I had a pretty good night. Waking up on the day of the final I felt okay in so much that I don’t think the match was entirely (sic) because I wasn’t feeling the freshest.”
In the two days since his 50-game fifth set against Isner, there’s been a lot of talk about the issue of the final set tiebreaker, some even calling for the rule to be changed. Anderson hopes that Wimbledon organisers will at least have a look at the rule and have an open conversation about it.
‘’Hopefully, there will be at least a dialogue. The slams are separate from the tours so I feel we don’t really have the same voice on certain issues.” It was, he said, a conversation worth having to at very least protect the health of players “when you have these long matches.’’
The 32-year-old South African super-star reached a career-high ranking of World Number Five and was happy with the achievement after years of hard work to get to this level.
He said that it was about two-and-a-half years ago when he was just in the team and in a chat on WhatsApp called “Top-five Kev” when this became a goal. He got to the top 10 that year and things were looking good, but then he had a major setback due to injuries in 2016.
“So, seeing that I made Top 5, I’m incredibly proud of that achievement, especially if I look back where I was just 15 months ago, around 80. It’s really something I can be very proud of.”
A mammoth number of fans will agree!