Anderson Lifts Vienna Trophy To Confirm London Qualification

South African becomes sixth man to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in London

Kevin Anderson booked his place at the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time on Sunday, defeating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6(3) to win the biggest title of his career at the Erste Bank Open 500.

The South African, who improved to 44-16 this year, won 91 per cent of first-serve points (39/43) and saved both break points he faced to lift the trophy. Anderson joins Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev as players to have qualified for the season-ending event, held at The 02 in London from 11-18 November.

"It’s fantastic. It’s been a huge goal of mine all year," said Anderson. "I felt I came pretty close the two previous seasons, but I missed out on it. I think it’s one of our biggest tournaments of the year, really celebrates the Top 8 players of the year. You have to win a lot of big matches against the best opponents in the world to book your spot there, so it’s fantastic to be amongst the best eight players in the world.

"And just London, the event itself, I’ve heard so much about it – a great arena, a great atmosphere – and to do it by winning my first 500 here in Vienna, as well, is a great combination."

Appearing in his fifth tour-level final of the season, Anderson captured his second trophy of the year after one hour and 55 minutes. The 32-year-old, who also defeated Nishikori en route to winning the inaugural New York Open in February, improved to 3-4 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against the Japanese star.

The ATP World Tour 500 trophy marks the biggest title run of Anderson's career. Each of the World No. 8's previous trophy wins - in Johannesburg, Delray Beach, Winston-Salem and New York - came at ATP World Tour 250-level events.

"It means a lot [to win my first ATP World Tour 500 title]. It has been a long time coming... any time you make a final, you want to put the history behind you and it was always going to be a tough match," said Anderson. "I was up against an unbelievable opponent in Kei and I really had to play some amazing tennis. I couldn't be more pleased to have kept at it and finally broken through at this level."

Nishikori, also chasing a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, was bidding to end an eight-match losing streak in tour-level championship matches. The Japanese No. 1, who last lifted a tour-level trophy at 2016 Memphis, remains 325 points behind eighth-placed Dominic Thiem in the ATP Race To London heading into the Rolex Paris Masters, which starts Monday.

"I think I had a great week, that is for sure," said Nishikori. "It wasn't a bad match. [Anderson] took some risks and he played great."

With variation on his backhand side, Anderson finally moved ahead in the fourth game of the match after 31 minutes. The 6'8" Wimbledon finalist used his slice backhand to defend well against an attacking Nishikori and soon increased his aggression off the same wing to force a crucial error.

"We were playing for 30 minutes and there had only been four games. It was really important [to get the break] and also be able to consolidate that and go up 4-1," said Anderson. "There was still so much tennis to play from that moment but it was obviously a very important moment in the match."

Anderson, after multiple errors on his backhand side when serving for the set, kept faith in the groundstroke and soon converted his third set point with another driven backhand to force an error from his opponent.

A tense second set required a tie-break to split the two finalists, with Anderson finding his best level on his serve and forehand side. The 32-year-old needed just one championship point to claim victory, landing his 13th ace of the match.

Anderson receives 500 ATP Ranking points and collects €473,865 in prize money for winning the tournament. Nishikori gains 300 ATP Ranking points and receives €232,315.