Kevin Anderson in race to be ready for Sunday’s ‘huge challenge’ after marathon semi-final

Kevin Anderson
Image: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

After six hours and 35 minutes of an epic Wimbledon semi-final‚ Kevin Anderson’s team will use every minute to prepare him‚ both mentally and physically for his first final at SW19 on Sunday.

Friday’s 7-6‚ 6-7‚ 6-7‚ 6-4‚ 26-24 win over John Isner was the second longest match in Grand Slam history and the longest match ever played on Centre Court. Anderson‚ 32‚ is now in a race to be ready for the final against Novak Djokovic‚ who beat Rafael Nadal in the other semi-final.

“The most important person on our team right now is the physio‚” Anderson’s coach Brad Stine told the Sunday Times from London. “We are all making sure Kevin is recovering properly –nutrition‚ sleep and hydration are vital.

“We will have a short hit today (Saturday) but the length of Friday’s match is not an advantage. With Rafa and Novak there are no secrets‚ we’ve all seen these guys play a million times. It’s doesn’t matter who it is‚ it’s going to be a huge challenge.”

Stine believes in Anderson’s unfulfilled potential‚ even at the relatively advanced aged of 31 (when they started working together). Anderson has won an ATP title in New York under Stine and now reached his second Grand Slam final following last year’s US Open final appearance.

Stine‚ who coached former World No 1 and Grand Slam winner Jim Courier‚ liked the raw material but has made some technical adjustments to Anderson’s game. He won’t elaborate.

Anderson beat eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a five-set quarterfinal thriller on Wednesday before outlasting Isner. Neither opponent’s serve had been broken at the tournament prior to facing Anderson. “We have made a couple of small technical adjustments that have paid big dividends‚” Stine says.

“Tactically we needed a clearer concept of what his best patterns of play are and how he can create positions where he’s forcing guys to play the way he wants them to play and making them deal with him.

“He can do it easily off his serve but he’s returning extremely well‚ which was a key focus early on. We had to change the paradigm of his own thinking in relation to returns and thinking and picturing himself as a good returner.”

The first five months under Stine have been encouraging with Anderson set to enter the top five in the world rankings‚ regardless of Sunday’s result.

“First of all you have to give all the coaches who have worked with Kevin credit‚ which includes Neville Godwin‚” manager Stuart Duguid told the Sunday Times.

“But Brad has coached Grand Slam winners in the past and knows what it takes‚ and seen what it takes to edge these matches. He has brought a fresh perspective.”

Anderson is also set to benefit commercially from his run.

“Being in the top five there are appearance fees at certain tournaments while the contracts he has in place with Lotto and Srixon have performance clause bonuses that are significant when you reach a Grand Slam final‚” Duguid says.

“And there will be new business based on his success too‚ which will hopefully see some local SA businesses come on board.”

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