South African players Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen have booked their places in the ATP Finals to be held in London, England between 11-18 November.
Anderson settled in sixth place in the world rankings after winning the Vienna Open in Austria last week, securing one of eight men’s singles spots at the annual tournament.
Doubles specialist Klaasen, the world No 18, was set to compete in the tour finals for the second time in his career after cementing his place alongside Michael Venus of New Zealand among the top eight partnerships on the ATP Tour this year.
We take a look at the paths the two South African stars have followed en route to the prestigious season-ending event.
The big-serving South African stole the hearts of the packed Wimbledon crowd with his gutsy displays at the All England Club in July. He had to negotiate his way past Swiss star Roger Federer in the quarter-finals and American John Isner in a marathon semifinal to reach his second Grand Slam final. Though he lost to Serbian Novak Djokovic in the trophy battle, Anderson rocketed to a career-high fifth place in the world rankings.
Reaching a total of five finals on the ATP Tour, Anderson earned two titles this season. He ended a three-year drought to lift the New York Open in February before winning the Vienna Open last week. Aside from his heroics during the grass swing, the 32-year-old player displayed how much his game had expanded by progressing to the fourth round on clay at the French Open and on the hard court at the US Open.
As well as he has played this year, Anderson will need to be at his best against the global elite, as he makes his maiden appearance at the tour finals. Carrying the weight of a nation, as the first South African to compete in the singles tournament in 23 years, he is up against the likes of six-time winner Federer, five-time champion Djokovic and Spanish giant Rafael Nadal.
“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 (Series tournament) here in Vienna as well is a great combination.” – Anderson
Linking up with Venus for the 2018 campaign, Klaasen and the New Zealander gelled from the start, winning the Open 13 title in France in February. They went on to reach four more finals on the ATP Tour, including Wimbledon and the Canadian Masters. In their latest performance, they showed good form by reaching the trophy battle at the Japan Open, a 500 Series tournament in Tokyo earlier this month.
Klaasen and Venus will both enter the tournament with previous experience in the ATP Finals. The South African player finished as the runner-up with former American partner Rajeev Ram in 2016, with the duo falling to Henri Kontinent of Finland and John Peers of Australia, and Venus reached the semifinals last year with American Ryan Harrison.
While Anderson has received more recognition for his exploits on the singles circuit, Klaasen has been equally impressive in the doubles format in recent years. He has earned 14 titles on the ATP Tour with six different partners and has reached two Grand Slam finals since 2013. He achieved a career-high ranking of No 9 in July 2016, and a solid performance in London could see him climb towards the top 10 once again.