Kevin Anderson kept alive his hopes of a first career ATP title at the SA Tennis Open with a 6-7 (3), 6-0, 6-4 semi-final win over Adrian Mannarino of France at Montecasino on Saturday.
The fourth-seeded South African was due to play unseeded Somdev Devvarman of India in yesterday’s decider. Both men have lost in their only previous final appearance on tour, Anderson in Las Vegas in 2008 and Devvarman in Chennai in 2009.
Anderson beat Devvarman in their only previous match at last year’s US Open.
“He [Devvarman] is a tough player and makes a lot of balls,” Anderson said. “I’ll look at my match against him at the US Open and if I play my game and serve well I’m confident I’ll have a good chance.”
Anderson was serving for the opening set at 5-3 against Mannarino before a lapse saw his sixth-seeded opponent break back and clinch it in a tiebreak.
The South African double-faulted and then pushed a forehand long soon after for the break, letting Mannarino back in. The Frenchman took the tiebreak 7-3.
However, 2.03m-tall Anderson powered through the second set 6-0 and clinched a crucial break in the fifth game of the third to win in a little over 2 hours.
He sealed it with an ace on his first matchpoint, his 19th ace of the match.
“I was happy to have turned the match around,” Anderson said. “It’s a challenge when the going gets tough and I just told myself to stay positive after that first set. I always felt I was on top after that.”
Devvarman had earlier reached his first ATP final in two years by beating South African wild card Izak van der Merwe 6-2, 6-4. He improved his record to 4-0 over his much taller opponent.
He landed 65 percent of his first serves while the 1.96m Van der Merwe could manage only 47 percent, despite his five aces.
Devvarman broke twice in the first set for a 4-0 lead, claiming the opener in 39 minutes as Van der Merwe struggled early in his first top-tier semi-final.
The home player rallied in the second, but Devvarman broke again in the seventh game and served out to win.
“I felt he was more nervous than me at the start and he made more mistakes and that helps in big matches,” Devvarman said. “I don’t want to come across as the bad guy but it’s good to win a few matches when the crowd is against you.”
Santiago Giraldo of Colombia and Tommy Robredo of Spain each rallied from a set down to win their semi-finals and advance to the final of the Movistar Open.
Eighth-seed Giraldo reached his first ATP final by defeating No. 5 Potito Starace of Italy 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1.
Sixth-seeded Robredo defeated No. 7 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Unseeded Ivan Dodig advanced to his first ATP final by overcoming third-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the Zagreb Indoors on Saturday.
Dodig will meet Michael Berrer in the final after the German defeated compatriot Florian Mayer 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi-final.
Dodig’s victory gives Croatia a finalist at home after its highest-ranked players, Marin Cilic and Ivan Ljubicic, lost in the quarter-finals. A Croat has been in the final every year since 2006.