Anderson Saves 1 M.P., Eliminates France From Final Eight Consideration
Kevin Anderson pulled off one of the comebacks of the inaugural ATP Cup on Wednesday night, saving one match point and twice breaking France's Benoit Paire as he served for the match to win 2-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(5).
Anderson's victory eliminated France from Final Eight consideration as the Frenchmen needed to win the tie 3-0 to remain eligible for the Final Eight, which starts in Sydney on Thursday. South Africa also needed to win 3-0 to advance, but Gilles Simon beat Lloyd Harris 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 to start the tie.
In the final match of the night, however, South Africans Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse clinched the tie win 6-3, 6-4 against Nicolas Mahut/Edouard Roger-Vasselin. South Africa finished Group A play with a 2-1 team record, and Group A champion Serbia, with a 3-0 record, is the only team from the group to advance to the Final Eight.
“I am very excited about [finishing second in Group A],” Klaasen said. “We saw what Kevin did out there, coming back and putting us in the mix, so we knew we had a chance coming out here to get the win today and the big guy next to me pulled his weight. I made sure that I could contribute in my role, but very exciting, especially given how the week started. To finish this way is very satisfying.”
Anderson improved to 2-1 at the ATP Cup, with his only loss coming against World No. 2 Novak Djokovic. He hadn't played a match since July 2019 and underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee last September.
“It's a terrific event. I'm really happy to have been able to represent South Africa here. I've looked forward to the event for a couple years now. I think there was such good crowd engagement. Every match we played really had a lot of support,” Anderson said.
Paire served for the win at 6-2, 5-4 and had a match point on Anderson's serve at 3-5, 30/40 in the third set. The Frenchman also served for the match at 5-4 in the third set.
“Benoit was in a very good position, serving for it twice. And in that position you just try to take one point at a time, and I got a little bit lucky. He gave me a few points, which, obviously, I'm sure was tough on his side. But I made a couple good returns and once I did get that break back I felt I played a good, very good end of the second set and finished the third set strong as well,” Anderson said.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster. I think both of us will feel that we could have done a few things better, but I'm very pleased to get the win in the end.”
Simon was playing in his first match of the 2020 ATP Tour season after serving as captain during France's first two ATP Cup ties. But Gael Monfils withdrew from France's final tie, pushing Paire, the country's No. 2 singles player, to the top spot and inserting Simon, the country's No. 3 singles player, into the lineup.
Harris, who fell to 1-2 on the year, saved 15 of 20 (75%) break points, including six match points in the final game. But the 6'6” right-hander netted a forehand on Simon's seventh chance to clinch.
But Simon, after high hopes for the ATP Cup, left Pat Rafter Arena disappointed.
“It's a difficult night because we knew that we had a very, very good chance to qualify with a 3-0 win. We had bad news – Gael couldn't play today. He tried as much as he could [in] practice to get ready. But he had too many problems,” Simon said.
“Last moment, I decided to go on court. I was really happy to make it through because Lloyd was playing good tennis, and then we have this match with Benoit, which was completely crazy. Benoit is so often in position to finish the match, and unfortunately he's not able to make it. And then I think it's a massive change in the whole tie.”