Kevin Anderson to face rising star Frances Tiafoe at the Australian Open

Kevin Anderson of South Africa plays a forehand in his first round match against Adrian Mannarino of France during day one of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
Kevin Anderson of South Africa plays a forehand in his first round match against Adrian Mannarino of France during day one of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Kevin Anderson enjoyed the best year of his career in 2018 and already 2019 is a step up from last year as he prepares to face rising star Frances Tiafoe in the Australian Open second round.

Anderson‚ 32‚ the No 5 seed at the Australian Open‚ won his first round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in four sets on Monday to set up a clash against the powerful Tiafoe.

The young American‚ whose parents hail from Sierra Leone‚ has risen to 39 on the world rankings in the past year. He is a dangerous opponent so early in a Grand Slam.

Against Mannarino Anderson needed two hours and 53-minutes to win 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1‚ which took him a stage further than he went in 2018 when he lost in the first round to Britain’s Kyle Edmund.

Similar to 2018‚ Anderson came into Melbourne for the season’s first Grand Slam on the back of a good start to his year.

Anderson was runner-up at the 2018 Tata Open Maharashtra in Delhi and this year he went a step further by winning the same tournament.

He has now also gone a step further in Melbourne and looks as fit and hungry as he’s ever been.

Anderson hit an incredible 41 winners against Mannarino but couldn’t take advantage of being a break-up in the second set. Unusually it was Anderson’s powerful serve that faltered as the left-handed Frenchman broke him twice to take the second set.

Anderson immediately regrouped‚ dropping just three games the rest of the way. He has now won eight of his past nine sets against Mannarino‚ and leads their head-to-heads 5-1.

Mannarino found it difficult to assert himself in points against the baseline-hugging Anderson‚ making 18 unforced errors in the final two sets.

Tiafoe is one of the rising stars of the game and came through his first round against Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran with little fuss‚ winning 7-6 (9) 6-3 6-3.

The 20-year-old Tiafoe has never beaten Anderson in their three previous meetings‚ but he pushed the 2.03m South African in every encounter.

The pair met three times in 2018 with Anderson needing three sets to win two of the three clashes.

Anderson will start as favourite but he knows that there is no room for complacency against a rising star with a fiery demeanour and a powerful game.

Tiafoe came to America as toddler after his mother won a green card lottery and his father subsequently worked in construction and eventually as a caretaker of the Junior Tennis Champions Centre (JTCC) in Washington DC.

It was there that Frances and his twin brother Franklin came into contact with tennis and where Frances’ career took off as they played on spare courts and eventually caught the eye of the establishment’s coaches.

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