Denis Shapovalov, Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Carreño Busta, Kevin Anderson, and more. A lot of people have complained about the depleted bottom half of the U.S. Open draw, but little saw the beautiful stories it brought, of which we are only naming four.
The most important of them is that of Kevin Anderson, considering the magnitude of what he is accomplishing.
At 31 years of age, the South African will play, on Sunday, the first Grand Slam final of his career. After a very difficult year (or even a tough couple of seasons) due to several injuries, Anderson is not only back in the mix, but will compete for the biggest title of his career against an habitué of those situations: Rafa Nadal.
“I will be playing for a Grand Slam trophy”, said a still emotional “KAndo” after his semifinal win. “That’s an amazing feeling. I have to get ready. [There is] still obviously a very difficult match ahead of me, but I think right now I’m just trying to unwind a little bit and just enjoy sort of today’s match. [I] have to start preparing for my next match very quickly, because it’s going to be a very tough match, up against both guys who are Grand Slam champions and who have been on this stage before, been on this court in the finals on a Sunday. It’s obviously new for me. But I think what I have been doing very well is sort of trying to put all those outside factors at bay.
“I have been really focused on trying to take care of my business, my side of the court. I feel like it’s been working well for me, so I’m not going to do anything much different. Same sort of things, recovering [Saturday]. It was quite physical, [Friday]’s match. I have to be 100% for my next match, but my body is healthy. Just a little fatigued.”
What about the final? “I’m going to treat it like each match I have throughout these two weeks”, said Anderson. “At least that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Anderson shows that good things happen to those who persevere
If Kevin Anderson’s story can teach something to everyone, it is that when you persevere, good things will happen to you. It might take time, but they will.
Having had his share of injuries over the last couple of years, and most importantly last year, his ranking dropped to as low as N°80 at the start of this season. Since then, he was able to get over a hip injury and climb his way back up.
“Last year was quite tricky for me”, said the South Africain. “A lot of stopping and starting. It was very frustrating, because there were a couple that definitely forced me away from the tour but there were a few that were constantly nagging injuries and constantly not allowing me to play the tennis I needed to be playing.
“Towards the end of the year, my hip really played up, and that was probably the most severe injury. Seemed like surgery was maybe even on the table. [I am] fortunate to have escaped that whole thing. It was tough not being able to go down to Australia beginning of the year. And then even starting this year I felt I was in very good shape. I had worked very hard. I was hitting the ball great but just wasn’t really finding that form out on the match court. I feel like in the last while, definitely things have turned around. I think it started on the clay court, getting more matches under my belt. I just feel like I have been constantly taking steps in the right direction.”
In the end, things have been going so well for him that there he is, at 31, about to play a Major final. Hanging on paid off.
In terms of ranking, Anderson is assured of coming back into the top 15 on Monday. A win on Sunday will bring him back to his best career ranking, at number 10.
However, regardless of Sunday’s result, where he enters as the heavy underdog against the world number one, Kevin Anderson will always have the certainty that perseverance is rewarded at one time or another.
And his story is an inspiration for all.