Kevin Anderson is one step away from becoming the first South African to reach a grand slam final in the Open Era.
The lanky right-hander has the best chance of his career to reach a maiden major final when he faces Pablo Carreno-Busta in the semi-finals of the US Open on Friday.
South Africa has struggled to produce tennis players of international calibre, with 15-time ATP Tour winner Wayne Ferreira and former world number three Amanda Coetzee being the shining lights of a previous generation.
Interestingly, Anderson has somewhat followed in the footsteps of Ferreira, relocating to the United States, perhaps more out of necessity than choice. That’s said, he certainly hasn’t forgotten his roots.
The reaction Anderson got from ‘back home’ following his superb display against home crowd favourite Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals certainly backs this up…
“I have got a tonne of messages from friends and family back home,” revealed Anderson after the victory.
“I just breezed through my phone…I saw a message from Wayne Ferreira, which is great. I saw a quick message from Ernie Els, one of the golfing legends, Louis Oosthuizen, a couple of golfers I’ve met just from our location in Florida.
“I just heard I’m the first South African in the Open Era to get to the semis here – my first sort of South African record. I feel pretty proud about that.”
Clearly, the weight of expectation from the Republic sits firmly on the broad shoulders of Anderson.
Carreno Busta and Anderson have met twice before, with Anderson winning on both occasions – most recently at last month’s Canadian Masters – in straight sets.
Key to the battle will be his serve, which has been on song so far at Flushing Meadows. Anderson’s potent weapon has averaged nearly 20 aces a match and he is well over 80% in terms of first serve points won for the tournament.
In fact, the world number 32 has only dropped two sets in New York this year, both in tiebreakers.
Meanwhile, Carreno Busta – once picked by Rafael Nadal as tennis’ next big thing – has also been quietly going about his work. An open draw has aided the Spaniard but he has taken his opportunities and is yet to drop a set.
Either way, come Sunday, the US Open will welcome a first time finalist.
— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) September 7, 2017