A dream came true for 2.03m South African tennis “skyscraper” Kevin Anderson in his home town on Sunday when he won an ATP World Tour title for the first time.
Anderson overcame a nervous start to wear down dogged Indian Somdev Devvarman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a rain-interrupted South African Open final.
Success for the world No. 59 ended a long wait by South Africa for an ATP triumph with the last coming in Tokyo six years ago when qualifier Wesley Moodie went all the way in the Japan Open.
Anderson climbed into a stand and hugged his mother after clinching victory, having atoned for a first-round exit in his last championship appearance two years ago.
“I will never forget today. To win your first ATP title in front of your own people is truly fantastic,” said Anderson, who was close to tears as he received the trophy from South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.
“The rain delay helped ease my nerves. I knew it was crucial to hold my own serve and get a crack at his. Somdev is a great player because it is tough playing South Africans here with the altitude and crowd in their favor,” he said.
It was Devvarman’s second final loss. He finished runner-up to Croat Marin Cilic in the 2009 Chennai Open.
“Congratulations to Kevin who has beaten me a few times now. I know the crowd were backing him, but they also applauded me and I felt at home,” he said.
Although Devvarman had made a habit of defeating other South Africans at Davis Cup and tournament level, he fell to Anderson in straight sets in their previous match during last year’s US Open.
The Indian eliminated locals Raven Klaasen, Rik de Voest and Izak van der Merwe on his way to the final and broke serve in the third game before rain suspended play for more than an hour.
Anderson broke back in the sixth game only for hyper-aggressive Devvarman to immediately do likewise and he went on to take the first set with relative comfort.
The South African was more forceful in the second set with an improved second service a key factor.
As the duel moved into the final set, the crowd was enthralled by the best match of the seven-day tournament with little to choose between the contenders.
Anderson showed he had more in his arsenal than a jet-propelled service while Devvarman produced far more aces than pundits predicted.
After failing to hold serve in the fifth game, Devvarrman squandered a great chance to bounce straight back as he lost a 40-0 lead and allowed his rival to move 4-2 ahead and on his way to glory.
Spain’s Tommy Robredo won his 10th ATP title, defeating Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (5) on Sunday in the final of the Movistar Open clay-court tournament.
It was a welcome victory for the sixth-seeded Robredo, who failed to reach a final last year.
However, it was a disappointing loss for the eighth-seeded Giraldo, who let the third set slip away after he led 5-2. The Colombian was playing in his first ATP final.
Robredo, 28, said he saw his opening late in the match.
“When he [Giraldo] served at 5-3 in the third, he started being less aggressive and put the ball more in play which allowed me to play longer and get into the court again,” Robredo said. “He was hitting really hard until then and it was really tough to put my game together.”
Unseeded Ivan Dodig beat Germany’s Michael Berrer 6-3, 6-4 to win his first ATP title in front of his home crowd at the Zagreb Indoors on Sunday.