Kevin Anderson  def. Dominic Thiem  6-3 7-6(10)
LONDON, UK – Kevin Anderson got a dream start on his debut at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals with a straight sets win over Dominic Thiem.
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Kevin Anderson  def. Dominic Thiem  6-3 7-6(10)
It was a clash between two of this year’s maybe surprise Slam finalists as the Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson faced off against Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem. Anderson had been an impressive 6-0 in his encounters against the Austrian but this year, Thiem had the measure of him on the tour.
Thiem beat him on his more favoured surface of clay at the Madrid Master and then cut short Anderson’s defence of final points at the US open. Thiem had the experience of being here now for three straight years, but Anderson had made it clear in his pre-match press conference he was not here to make up the numbers.
He started by far the most aggressive, breaking Thiem quiet early on, and always looking the more threatening, forcing Thiem to defend break points and ultimately two set points before Anderson served the first set out to love.
It was a far better showing from Thiem in the second set, with not a break point in sight for the pair of them, until the tie-break. A few years ago, the matches had been so one-sided as to make the round-robin stages quite dull, and even though this was a straight sets victory, the thrills and spills all came in the tie-break.
Thiem was the one to nudge ahead at the start but was pegged back with the pair trading another couple of mini-breaks. With Anderson just on the side of the angels, Thiem saved three match points as well as fielding two set points of his own, before going down to the big-serving South African.
After the match, Thiem said: “I didn’t have a good start. At the beginning I was trying to return on a similar position than in New York. Was not working out at all. I mean, I had no chance basically in the first set to break him. Me, myself, I was in trouble almost every service game. So the first set was not really good.
“Then the second one was a very good set of tennis, I would say. Was just one little ball here and there why I lost at the end.”
Anderson concurred that his focus at the start of the match had served him well.
“I think it was important going out there and getting off to a good start. I definitely felt a little bit nervous. But I was able to settle very quickly and find a really good rhythm, taking care of my serve games nicely, created quite a few opportunities on his serve.
“He wasn’t serving at a very high first-serve percentage. I felt I was getting into quite a few points. The second set could have been anybody’s set. He started serving well. I was taking care of my serve games. When it’s 12-10 in the tiebreak, it really could have gone either way. I think overall just getting off to a good start helped me a lot today.”
As Novak Djokovic quipped, he is surrounded by veritable giants in the game, but Anderson believes it is changing the perspective, especially for taller kids who are watching the game now. Anderson explained why he felt more taller players were being more effective now.
“I think it started from a young age. My dad, who taught me growing up, was very insistent and he had great foresight to see where the game was going. We spent a lot of time working on my movement from the baseline. That’s what I feel more comfortable with. As my career got on, I’ve been trying to find ways to come forward more.
“But especially in today’s game, there’s a lot of times where guys are playing such great defence that you do find yourself in rallies. I spent a lot of time in my training, both on and off the court, working on my movement.
“Having good technique, good footwork patterns, being strong enough, being tall. Some of the forces are a little bit tougher. Just keeping things healthy, as well, because when things are healthy and moving well, it definitely becomes easier to move around.”
Play continues at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals on Monday, starting at 12pm.
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