Anderson Accelerates Comeback With Big Win
The South African dropped the first set against Nick Kyrgios but sprinted to the finish to advance to the third round 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. 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 No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“I knew I was going to have to play very focused and overcome some challenges, which definitely was the case today. 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 No. 87 on 16 January 2017.
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. 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.
Tsonga's countryman, 15th seed Gael Monfils, reached the third round at Roland Garros for the ninth time, dismissing Brazilian Thiago Monteiro 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. Monfils won 60 per cent of his return points and needed only 91 minutes to advance.
“It feels great. I was able to serve well. I was able to really apply what I had agreed upon with [coach] Mikael [Tillerson],” Monfils said. “The next match will be very important. What I like, especially when I play in Grand Slam tournaments, is that momentum, where match after match you not only play consistently but you play better and better.”
Monfils leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Gasquet 7-6, but they have played on clay only once, in Barcelona in 2011. “As long as I can play 100 per cent of my tennis and take great pleasure, that's what I want,” Gasquet said. “It is a bit unfortunate that he's a fellow Frenchman. I don't always like to play friends. But again, I hope it will be a good match. I hope the sun will shine. We will be on the centre court. It will be a nice moment.”
The upsets continued in the doubles draw on Thursday at Roland Garros, with only one of the five seeded teams in action advancing. Nine of the 16 seeds have already been eliminated, including top seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers, and second seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
Eleventh seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau survived the upset bug with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 second-round win over wild cards Constant Lestienne and Corentin Moutet. They'll next play seventh seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers or Malek Jaziri and Andreas Seppi.
Czech duo Roman Jebavy and Jiri Vesely knocked off eighth seeds Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram 7-5, 6-4. Awaiting them in the round of 16 are wild cards Quentin Halys and Adrian Mannarino or Rogerio Dutra Silva and Paolo Lorenzi. Dutra Silva/Lorenzi received a first-round walkover on Thursday against 10th seeds Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Andres Molteni and Adil Shamasdin continued their fine form by defeating 12th seeds Marcin Matkowski and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5, 7-6(7). Standing between them and a spot in the quarter-finals are Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos, who defeated Andre Begemann and Philipp Oswald 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
The Indian pair of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan rounded out the day of upsets by defeating 15th seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Santiago Gonzalez and Donald Young also advanced, taking out Jonathan Erlich and Andre Sa 6-3, 7-6(5).
All remaining second-round matches will be completed on Friday.
Go inside the tournament at RolandGarros.com.