Kevin Anderson saves a deputy and defeats Frances Tiafoe in Estoril | ATP Tower
Kevin Anderson opened his Millennium Estoril Open campaign on Monday with a spectacular 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) victory over Frances Tiafoe in which he saved a match point.
The South African fired a backhand from the baseline to save match point 5/6 in the second set tie-break and he rallied 1-4 in the decider to reach the second round. Anderson played with consistent aggression on his forehand in the last set tie-break and drew his 20th ace of the game to seal his victory after two hours and 47 minutes.
“It was obviously a very, very close game,” said Anderson. “I think there were a lot of positives, a lot of really high quality tennis, especially from the middle of the second until the end of the game, I was really happy with the way I played. I think even though I lost that game, obviously it’s still hard to lose, but I really felt like I took a step in the right direction today.
“Getting the win is a big added bonus, it gives me another chance to go out in a few days.”
The 2017 semi-finalist is making his first appearance on clay this season. Anderson holds a 3-3 record in 2021, evidenced by his run in the third round of the Great Ocean Road Open in February.
“I feel like I’m playing really good tennis, it’s just about getting that momentum, that self-confidence back to where I want it to be,” said Anderson. “As always, I just feel like it’s so important to take one step at a time.”
Anderson will meet fourth seed Kei Nishikori for a quarterfinal berth. The 34-year-old has a 4-5 ATP Head2Head record against the Japanese, which includes three wins in the pair’s most recent four games. Overall, the two-time Grand Slam finalist still intends to return to the top of the sport.
“I always play to win a Grand Slam and win a Masters series [events]. This is what I have spent my whole life working on. Obviously, this is the pinnacle of our sport, ”said Anderson. You’re really going to have to play a lot of good tennis to get back to it. I know what it takes. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely what I live for. I think the body and staying healthy will probably be the biggest challenge, but I’m doing all I can on this front. More than that I can’t do. “
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina struggled hard to beat compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 and register his 10th win of the season. The 21-year-old will next face Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, who beat Spaniard Jaume Munar 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Davidovich Fokina is looking to surpass his current career high of 48th in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The Spaniard recorded the biggest victory of his career two weeks ago at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, where he beat world No.10 Matteo Berrettini en route to the quarter-finals.
Portugal’s Nuno Borges claimed his first ATP Tour victory on Monday. The 24-year-old defeated Jordan Thompson 7-6 (5), 6-3 to confirm a second round encounter against sixth seed Marin Cilic or Spaniard #NextGenATP Carlos Alcaraz.