Kevin Anderson has enjoyed a great 2018 tennis season. He’s improved so much it’s almost impossible to imagine a time when he wasn’t one of the world’s best.
Written by Zac Elkin
At 32-years-of-age, though, that is unlikely. It might be true that his best years are ahead of him but it’s only right and fair to stop for a moment, acknowledge what he has accomplished and offer the worthy praise… with no eye on the future.
To become a successful professional tennis player is to defy lengthy odds – the game is extremely popular and, relatively speaking, only a very select few are able to earn a living from it.
To become a successful professional tennis player from South Africa is to defy even more lengthy odds – the opportunities, facilities, coaches and funding are not what they are in other countries.
Forget Anderson’s refusal to play Davis Cup tennis for South Africa and his reluctance to wholly identify as South African. Given his upbringing, he has reached great heights in the game and even though he seems to grow (no pun intended) as a tennis player quite literally from tournament to tournament, it would be unfair not to take stock and celebrate the player he is right now.
With all that in mind, here are his five greatest achievements to date.
Winner of an ATP 500 event
Prior to this past weekend, Anderson had never won an ATP 500 level tournament. With a crunching ace in the final of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Sunday, he ticked that box.
The victory was Anderson’s fifth tour title of his career. However, all his previous four successes have been at the ATP 250 level.
Will debut at the ATP Finals
The tennis season is structured so that the best eight performing players are rewarded with an appearance in the campaign-ending ATP Finals. Held in London, this event is quite possibly the most prestigious in the game outside of the grand slams.
For the first time in his career, Anderson will compete at the ATP Finals in 2018. There, he will lock horns with Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Alexander Zverev (the remaining two players are yet to be confirmed) – it’s the most elite of company.
It’s been 23 years since a South African has made it to this blockbuster competition.
Has featured in two Grand Slam finals
In June, Anderson reached the Wimbledon final after beating Federer at SW19. He eventually lost to Djokovic, narrowly missing out on what would have been his first grand slam.
In 2017, he also made the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, suffering defeat at the hands of Nadal.
In the last two years, Anderson is one of just six players to have featured in two grand slam finals.
He is also the first South African to have competed in a grand slam final since Johan Kriek won the Australian Open in 1982.
Career high ranking of fifth in the world
Anderson achieved a career-high world ranking of fifth on the 16th of July of 2018, becoming the highest-ranked South African in ATP rankings history since 1973.
Has earned a lot of money
Anderson might not ever win a grand slam. He might not ever be the champion at the ATP Finals or lift an ATP Masters 1000 trophy. However, he’s still achieved a huge amount, as the above evidences.
If little of it impresses you, then the $14,516,617 in career earnings might.
That number makes him the 34th wealthiest men’s tennis player of all time.
In the world of sport today, standards for excellence are set with very little attention paid to circumstance. Suppositions are also made that performing athletes will simply keep getting better, regardless of what is going on around them.
In the case of South Africa’s Anderson, the next few years have the potential to be the best of his career. Irrespective of what happens next though, it’s vital to recognise what he has already achieved.