Kevin Anderson hopes his latest performance will assist in triggering a potential sleeping giant in his nation of birth, after he and doubles specialist Raven Klaasen rocketed up the world rankings by producing superb results at Wimbledon over the weekend.
Both players reached the finals at the All England Club, with Anderson climbing to a career-high fifth in the latest singles world rankings and Klaasen rising six places to 24th in the doubles list.
In the latter stages of a draining two-week battle, Anderson had to negotiate five-set contests against defending champion Roger Federer of Switzerland, fighting for a 2-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 13-11 quarter-final victory, and John Isner of the United States, winning an epic 7-6 6-7 6-7 6-4 26-24 semifinal encounter that lasted more than six-and-a-half hours.
He reached his second career Grand Slam final, becoming the first player in 97 years to represent South Africa in the men’s singles final of the prestigious grass court event*.
He went on to struggle in the trophy decider against Serbian Novak Djokovic, who lifted his fourth title with a 6-2 6-2 7-6 victory, but Anderson was delighted with his overall effort and grateful for the backing he had received from South Africa.
“The support I’ve had throughout has been amazing, with all the flags flying out here,” said the US-based player.
“Hopefully in 20 years somebody might be standing here with that trophy, saying they saw me playing here and I was an inspiration for them to get there.”
Klaasen was also in top form in the men’s doubles division, making it to the final with New Zealander Michael Venus.
The duo ultimately went down to Mike Bryan and Jock Sock of the United States, who earned a 6-3 6-7 6-3 5-7 7-5 seesaw victory.
Anderson was confident there were other top-flight prospects in SA who could reach the same level.
“South Africa’s had a long history of tennis, and we’ve not been so great the last few years but I know there’s a ton of great tennis players,” he said.
* South African player Kevin Curren reached the Wimbledon final in 1985 but he entered the tournament under the American flag.