Kevin Anderson: 'It’s Bigger Than Our Sport'
Kevin Anderson was flying high in 2018, reaching his second Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, and ascending to a career-high No. 5 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But a series of injuries over the past year-plus has set back the South African star.
Most recently, the 33-year-old underwent surgery in February to repair a medial mensicus tear after playing three tournaments in 2020.
“My recovery’s gone great. I think it’s been really successful so far... I probably would have been ready for Monte-Carlo and the clay-court season. Obviously that’s not going to happen anymore, so we just had to readjust and now I’ll be at home and I feel like the toughest part of getting over the surgery and recovery has been done,” Anderson told ATPTour.com. “I feel quite confident where I am right now and I can maintain as much as I can while not being able to train properly and hopefully things settle down and it’s more safe to go outside, I’ll be able to resume and get back with things.”
Hey everyone, a little update... pic.twitter.com/BrunPU33B2— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) February 21, 2020
At the beginning of last season, Anderson had elbow issues. Then at the beginning of the American summer, his knee became problematic, which led to surgery in September. During the off-season, he hurt his right knee again, and scans later revealed the medial meniscus tear.
“After my last tournament [at the New York Open] it seemed just going on like this wouldn’t make the most sense,” Anderson said. “But for the whole time I was in Australia and New York, I was told there was a chance I didn’t need the surgery, so I was a little bit unlucky that in the end I needed it, and that’s why I decided to get it done.”
Anderson is no stranger to comebacks, though. He cracked the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings in October 2015, before physical setbacks repelled him as low as World No. 80. The South African returned better than ever, reaching both of his Grand Slam finals (also the 2017 US Open).
“Each setback or obstacle is unique and you need to approach it differently. But having that experience in the past will help,” Anderson said of his new challenge. “Obviously now it’s two things: ‘A’ was getting over my surgery, which I feel I was doing a really good job with. [Then] we are faced with a sort of unprecedented time and obviously just like a lot of other players have expressed, the concern is more for globally getting this under control for many people. I think it’s bigger than our sport right now.”
The ATP Tour’s stars came together in a tremendous way during the Australian summer, with many supporting those suffering from the Aussie bushfires. Anderson believes tennis players could be strong models in helping combat coronavirus by using their platforms.
“The fires in Australia were terrible and that was a large-scale problem. What’s going on right now is even larger than that just in terms of how many people it’s affected and literally in so many countries around the world,” Anderson said. “I think the biggest message is just trying to stay safe. I think people with their social media followers or being able to reach more people, I think it’s important to try to spread those messages and I think it’ll be important as time goes on to see where things settle and of course everybody’s going to be affected. There will be a lot of loss, but I think we’ll be able to come together and come back stronger.”
The six-time ATP Tour champion's wife Kelsey gave birth to their first child, Keira, last September. Although he has spent much of his time during this period with his family, one of Anderson’s hobbies is playing guitar.
“I’ve been travelling with my guitar for years, it’s something that I really enjoy. I’d say at home, [I play it] when I can. Obviously it’s much more challenging having a baby to look after and trying to help out when I can,” Anderson said. “Probably not playing as much guitar as I would have in the past. But it’s always something that I really enjoy doing.
“I think I’ve just always really enjoyed music. I just decided at one point in time to get it done. The Bryan Brothers obviously play a lot and I remember talking to them, I was playing World TeamTennis and their father, Wayne Bryan, was showing us some guitar stuff. I remember thinking, ‘I should really do this’, and then a couple weeks later going to buy a guitar and I’ve just taught myself since then.”
For now, Anderson will focus on spending time with his family at home and keeping himself healthy for whenever players can return to the court.
“From a professional standpoint, of course it’s always a bit of an uphill battle coming back. Even if the [ATP] Tour resumes in a few months’ time, in the past year-and-a-half I’ve only played eight tournaments, not a lot of matches, and obviously my ranking will have gone down quite a lot, so I won’t be seeded,” Anderson said. “There are always challenges, but I know that if I stay healthy and keep trusting in my game, I’m going to give myself opportunities and I fully believe that I can get back there. But that’s the longterm goal right now, obviously there are other things happening right now and I just have to take it a day at a time.”