Five-setter king Anderson outlasts Shapovalov to last-16
South Africa’s Kevin Anderson is the king of the five-setter after he outlasted the precociously talented Denis Shapovalov to reach the last-16 of the US Open at Flushing Meadows in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Anderson‚ 32‚ used his big serve and cool temperament to beat the Canadian 4-6‚ 6-3‚ 6-4‚ 4-6‚ 6-4 in the first ever match played under the new roof on court Louis Armstrong.
Shapovalov played his usual aggressive game‚ hitting an incredible 59 winners against 42 unforced errors. Anderson hit 31 winners and 32 unforced errors while he only managed 11 aces to Shapovalov’s 13.
But it was on the big points where Anderson showed better temperament and judgement by converting three of seven break points. The Canadian could only convert two of nine break points.
“I practiced with Denis in Toronto a few weeks ago‚ but it is difficult playing against someone you haven’t met before‚” Anderson said.
“He did what I expected though – he serves really well and he is so lively from the back of the court. A bunch of times I thought I hit pretty decent returns but he really punishes anything he has time on‚ and even sometimes when he doesn’t have time.”
Anderson dropped the first set and promptly took a medical time out. He was off court for nearly five minutes‚ but when he returned he showed no ill effects‚ breaking Shapovalov in the sixth game of the set for a 4-2 lead.
Rain then halted play as the roof was shut for the first time – it took only five minutes. Anderson served out to take the set to level the match.
In the seventh game of set three Shapovalov miss-hit a forehand off a devilish backhand slice from Anderson to hand the initiative to the 2.03m No.5 seed.
“The break in the second set turned things around a bit and put me in control‚” Anderson said. “He came back in the fourth‚ but it was incredible tennis all round.
“I definitely have more experience than him and that might have helped me in certain moments. I needed to use all of it today.”
Anderson duly served out for a 2-1 lead and the match went on serve until the 10th game of the fourth set. Shapovalov needed three break-point chances to finally break Anderson and send the match into a fifth set decider.
But Anderson is no stranger to the pressure of fifth sets‚ having beaten Roger Federer 13-11 and John Isner 26-24 in Wimbledon fifth sets in July. He also needed a fifth set against American Ryan Harrison in round one at the US Open earlier in the week.
Anderson broke Shapovalov in the third game of the fifth set and although he had to battle on his own serve several times in the course of the final set by staving off five break points‚ he took the match.
Anderson faces Austria’s Dominic Thiem on Sunday.