When opponents face Kevin Anderson on the tennis court, it must
seem to them like he’s serving from the tree tops. South Africa’s
Anderson stands 6 feet 8 inches (203cm) high, the third- tallest
man on the ATP world tour. Croatia’s Ivo
Karlovic leads the way for big men at 6 foot 10, followed by 6 foot
9 John Isner of the United States.
Anderson, the world ranked 64th, is seeded second at the
$125,000 ATP Samsung Securities Cup
Challenger event beginning today at the Olympic Park Tennis Center
in Seoul, and ending Sunday, a tournament won seven times since
2000 by Korea’s Lee Hyung-taik.
The top seed is 42-ranked Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan, who beat Andy
Roddick on his way to the quarterfinals at this year’s Wimbledon.
The other seeds are Florent Serra, France; Dudi Sela, Israel;
Somdev Devvarman, India; Frederico Gil, Portugal; Go Saeda, Japan,
and Grega Zemlja, Slovakia.
Anderson, 24, made his breakthrough this summer, reaching the
semifinals in Atlanta, the round of 16 in Toronto – losing 6-2, 7-6
to Rafael Nadal – and the round of 32 at the U.S. Open in
‘My serve is my biggest strength,’ Anderson said, after a Sunday
morning training session at Olympic Park, with South African coach
Louis Vosloo. ‘Since the Australian Open in January, I’ve been
looking to move forward more, to come from the back of the court to
the net, to take advantage of my serve.’
From 2004 through 2007, Anderson attended the University of
Illinois – one of the top schools in the U.S. for tennis _ on a
tennis scholarship, achieving a ranking of number 4 among college
players. He was able to win from the back of the court in college.
But in the pros, players like Roger Federer and Nadal, aren’t going
to miss after ten or twenty-stroke rallies.
‘I was fully a baseline player,’ Anderson, who regularly serves
at 130 mph, (216 kmph), admitted. ‘I hesitated to move forward and
take control of the point.’
When the lanky 195-pounder (89 kg) began to do so after the
Australian Open, the results came quickly. In the first round at
Wimbledon in June, Anderson led two sets to none against top-10
player Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, before succumbing in five tight
sets in four hours and 13 minutes.
‘At Wimbledon, Anderson served and volleyed about two thirds of
the time,’ said Vosloo, formerly ranked 170th in the world and
Anderson’s coach since April. ‘Now, he comes in and volleys about a
third of time.’
Anderson’s new-found aggressiveness has paid off. During spring
and summer, he played a string of top-30 players: Fernando
Gonzalez, Nicolas Almagro, Jurgen Melzer and Richard Gasquet, and
stretched each to the limit.
Anderson was the top junior player in South Africa growing up in
Johannesburg, but due to the national tennis federation being in
turmoil, and almost bankrupt, when he competed at junior grand slam
tournaments, it was with family funding.
‘And South Africa is so far from the tennis scene,’ he said,
adding that is why he moved to Chicago, his base outside South
Africa, in 2004.
The fast Olympic Park courts should suit Anderson’s game in
this, the final ATP event in Korea for 2010.