SA's Anderson aiming high

31 December 2011 - 02:19
By Lee-Ann Alfreds
SA hope Kevin Anderson has set his goals for 2012 Picture: GETTY IMAGES
SA hope Kevin Anderson has set his goals for 2012 Picture: GETTY IMAGES

A KNEE injury has forced South African tennis player Kevin Anderson out of the Brisbane International starting at the Queensland Tennis Centre on New Year's Day.

It is a setback for Johannesburg-born Anderson, who has set his targets for the year - a top 15 ranking and a grand slam quarterfinal.

Anderson, 25, ranked 32 in the world, had been looking forward to competing against a strong field which includes world No4 Andy Murray, Gilles Simon, James Blake, Bernard Tomic, Marcos Baghdatis, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Tommy Haas.

He still hopes he will be able to prepare for the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year, to be played from January 16-29, at the Heineken Open in Auckland.

Fresh from "the best year of my career" during which he broke into the top 50, 2.03m Anderson, who started playing tennis aged six, intends building on his success.

"I didn't quite achieve my goal of top 20 [in 2011] but there were still a lot of positives. I felt I made a lot of very good improvements and am a lot closer to achieving my long-term goals. I feel I am very close to top 20. It's not easy but I know that the hard work I put in day in and out will get me there.

"There were some parts I will look to improve this year. Continuing to improve and playing to my strengths will allow me to improve to top the 10 or 20 and stay there."

"My goal is to finish in the top 15. I would like to make at least the quarterfinal of a grand slam, too."

He knows it isn't going to be easy unless he improves his consistency.

After a good start to 2011 in Brisbane, he was bundled out in the opening round at the Australian Open. He then won his maiden title, the SA Open, before losing to Juan Ignacio Chela in the second round of the French Open. He lost at the same stage - to world No1 Novak Djokovic - at Wimbledon and had his best run at a grand slam at the US Open, reaching the third round before encountering Djokovic again - and losing.

But he thrashed defending champion Murray 6-3 6-1 in the Rogers Cup in Montreal in August.

"They [Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Murray] are great players. Playing any one of them has its own unique challenges. Playing Djokovic last year three times was pretty tough, especially looking at the type of year he had. He doesn't give you anything in the match, he makes you work for every point. His movement and returns are the best in the game

"Tennis is definitely being dominated by the top four players. It's not easy beating those guys to win tournaments, in fact nobody has done it so far. But you need to keep a strong belief in your game and keep patient. I keep working every day to one day compete and beat those kind of players."

However, the level-headed Anderson loses his equanimity when asked if there is more to his game than a thundering serve.

His response to people who say he is little more than a big server is: "They don't know tennis very well! My serve is one of my best shots, but there is a lot more to my game. At this level there needs to be, otherwise players will expose you. In addition to my serve, my forehand and ability to control points are my biggest strengths."

Anderson particularly likes Wimbledon and the US Open. "The grand slams are all special, but those two are my favorites. Wimbledon has all the history and I think the US Open has so much excitement to it."