Kevin Anderson eyes place in ATP World Finals semis with Roger Federer standing in his path

South Africa's Kevin Anderson walks on court to play against Japan's Kei Nishikori during their men's singles round-robin match on day three of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 13, 2018.
South Africa's Kevin Anderson walks on court to play against Japan's Kei Nishikori during their men's singles round-robin match on day three of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 13, 2018.
Image: Glyn KIRK / AFP

Kevin Anderson produced his most convincing performance of the season‚ and possibly of his career‚ as he demolished Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-0 6-1 in 64 minutes at the ATP World Finals on Tuesday.

Anderson’s win in Group Lleyton Hewitt came against an in-form Nishikori who had beaten Roger Federer in the opening match of the season-ending finale on Sunday.

The 2.03m‚ big-serving South African now has one foot in the semi-finals with his second straight sets win following Sunday’s victory over Austria’s Dominic Thiem at London’s O2 Arena.

Anderson‚ 32‚ plays 37-year-old Federer next on Thursday.

The Swiss master defeated Thiem on Tuesday night to stay alive in the tournament but there are eight remaining scenarios that will decide who advances to the semi-finals.

There is only one scenario where Anderson could miss out. (See table below).

Anderson is one of the more modest world-class athletes on the planet but even he was inclined to pat himself on the back after the rampaging display that left Nishikori bewildered.

"[The match was] amongst the best I've played‚" said Anderson.

"I think I did a really good job constantly applying the pressure and not letting up. I kept at it the whole time. I just felt I returned really well‚ made him hit a lot of shots off his serve.

"He wasn't getting too many free points and as I grew in confidence‚ he probably was going a little the other way which is tough given the situation.

"I felt I did a fantastic job throughout really. Even though I had a lead‚ I felt a sense of urgency throughout which I thought was really important because I wanted to get that win as best that I could."

Anderson’s serve set the tone. He landed 77% of his first serves‚ winning 23 of 28 (82%) points behind his major weapon‚ which included 10 aces.

More tellingly though‚ for a second match in a row‚ Anderson didn’t have to defend a single break point.

With his serve impregnable Anderson was able to put pressure on Nishikori’s serve. He won 11 of 22 points on the Japanese’s first serve and 17 of 27 (62%) on the second serve. It was a brutal destruction.

Anderson reeled off the first 11 games of the match‚ taking the first set in 31 minutes. It seemed he was set to become only the second man to win an ATP Finals match without dropping a game‚ but Nishikori managed to take the 12th game of the match to avoid that embarrassment.

"I think [Kevin] started well. That's why he was more confident after a couple of games. For me‚ I think it was opposite‚" said Nishikori.

"I lost the second game and I was lost a little bit and just didn't feel the ball today. I played one of the worst matches this year and also he was playing well‚ too."

QUALIFICAITON SCENARIOS FOR GROUP LLEYTON HEWITT:

1) Regardless of score‚ if FEDERER defeats ANDERSON and THIEM defeats NISHIKORI‚ then FEDERER wins the group and ANDERSON qualifies 2nd.

2) Regardless of score‚ if ANDERSON defeats FEDERER and NISHIKORI defeats THIEM‚ then ANDERSON wins the group and NISHIKORI qualifies 2nd.

3) If FEDERER defeats ANDERSON in 2 sets and NISHIKORI defeats THIEM in 2 sets‚ then THIEM is eliminated and order of remaining players is determined by % of games won.

4) If FEDERER defeats ANDERSON in 2 sets and NISHIKORI defeats THIEM in 3 sets‚ then FEDERER wins the group and ANDERSON qualifies 2nd.

5) If FEDERER defeats ANDERSON in 3 sets and NISHIKORI defeats THIEM‚ then ANDERSON wins the group and NISHIKORI qualifies 2nd.

6) If ANDERSON defeats FEDERER in 2 sets and THIEM defeats NISHIKORI in 2 sets‚ then ANDERSON wins the group and order of remaining players is determined by % of games won.

7) If ANDERSON defeats FEDERER and THIEM defeats NISHIKORI in 3 sets‚ then ANDERSON wins the group and NISHIKORI qualifies 2nd.

8) If ANDERSON defeats FEDERER in 3 sets and THIEM defeats NISHIKORI in 2 sets‚ then ANDERSON wins the group and FEDERER qualifies 2nd.

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