Anderson on course for first ATP title
Fourth-seeded home favorite Kevin Anderson and sixth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France avoided the curse of the seeded players at the SA Tennis Open to reach the quarterfinals on Thursday.
They were joined by Canada's Frank Dancevic, who continued his recovery from a serious back injury to make the last eight of an ATP event for the first time since 2009.
Anderson stayed on course for a first career ATP title by beating Dudi Sela of Israel 6-2, 6-4.
He was followed into the last eight by Mannarino, the only other seeded player left in the tournament, after the Frenchman's 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 win over Denis Gremelmayr of Germany.
Dancevic built on his impressive win over defending champion and top-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the first round with a 7-6 (6), 6-3 success over South African wild card Fritz Wolmarans in the late singles at Montecasino.
Dancevic, who missed 10 months on tour following surgery on a herniated disc in late '09, rallied from 3-0 down in the first-set tiebreak and broke twice in the second for victory in 1 hour, 35 minutes.
He will play Mannarino in the quarters as he sets sights on a third ATP final and first since Eastbourne two years ago - before the serious back injury threatened his career.
Dancevic is yet to win an ATP tournament but reached a career-high No. 65 in the world rankings before his lengthy injury layoff.
South African No. 1 Anderson hit 13 aces to just one from Sela in a clinical performance for his first win in three meetings with the Israeli.
''It definitely felt pretty good out there,'' Anderson said. ''I wasn't on edge, I felt very comfortable. I didn't give him any chances on my service games.''
Anderson gave up just one break and converted four out of his five break points to stroll through. He is the man to beat after a parade of seeded players, headed by Lopez, crashed out in the opening round of the high-altitude Johannesburg tournament.
''It's tough to pick the winners in the altitude,'' Anderson added. ''It's tricky and definitely can come down to a few points. But I'm looking forward to the rest of the tournament, I'm going to go out and enjoy it.''
Anderson will meet unseeded Slovak Karol Beck, who prevailed 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 in a topsy-turvy match with Japan's Go Soeda. It will be the first ATP quarterfinal since 2005 for Beck.
Mannarino and Gremelmayr both struggled in their night match, sharing 109 unforced errors before Mannarino finished strongest and won with an ace on his second match point.
Mannarino is also hunting a first ATP title.