ACAPULCO, Mexico – It took Kevin Anderson more than two years to capture his fourth ATP World title but he's on the verge of a second ATP World Tour title in as many tournaments.
After defeating 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Jared Donaldson 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel on Friday night (Saturday, SA time), the 2014 Acapulco finalist is now just one victory away from winning his second trophy in a row.
"It just feels great to win tonight's match," Anderson said. "When you're out there, you're not really thinking about finals and what happened before. In the heat of the battle, I thought it was a really tough match."
After triumphing at the New York Open two weeks ago in his most recent event, Anderson will get a crack at his fifth trophy on Saturday. The South African, who is now at a career-high No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, will play second seed Alexander Zverev or sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro in his third final of the season (1-1, l. in Pune, w. New York).
Anderson fell to as low as World No 80 last January after a variety of injuries and health issues set the right-hander back. But since then, he has made five tour-level finals (Washington D.C., US Open, Pune, New York, Acapulco), in a run that includes a runner-up finish at last year’s US Open.
The semi-final appeared completely in his hands at the beginning of the second set, as Anderson's massive serving and court positioning kept Donaldson from clawing his way into neutral rallies. The fifth seed held five break points in the first game of the second set to grab a commanding lead, but failed to convert. The fifth seed was still controlling play, though, and lost just four points in his first three service games of the set.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Donaldson began to find the greater length on his returns, keeping Anderson back, which then allowed the 21-year-old to play more aggressively. The American used that slight opening to not only earn his first break point of the match at 4-3, but go on to break twice in a row to claim the second set.
But Anderson, who is now 11-2 on the season, had too much experience in the moment, breaking to open the decider and gain a lead he would not relinquish. Anderson struck 18 aces in the victory, and hit a wicked inside-out forehand winner to clinch the battle.
"I really felt I did well just fighting as hard as I could," Anderson said. "The match point felt great to really go after it and execute the way I wanted to. So, right now I'm just really pleased to be through to the finals here. I have a shot at playing for a title."
It was a strong week for Donaldson despite the loss, as the 21-year-old American reached his first tour-level semi-final. Donaldson is projected to climb to a career-high No. 48 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
Anderson will face a tough test regardless of who is across the net on Saturday. The fifth seed is a combined 0-10 against his possible opponents in the Acapulco final. He has lost his past five sets against Zverev to trail the German 0-5 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The 31-year-old has also dropped his past six sets against Del Potro and has fallen short in all six of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
"It's another opportunity for me," Anderson said. "I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I'm playing great tennis. [It's] just about recovering and resting up right now and being as prepared as possible for tomorrow."
African News Agency