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Kevin takes on Swiss

Our top-ranked singles player, Kevin Anderson continues his quest to end the year with a Top 20 ATP Tour ranking when he tackles the third round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada on Thursday, writes Mark Etheridge.

Anderson, currently ranked 35th in the world, will play 14th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the third round. And after beating world No4 Andy Murray in straight sets on Tuesday, his hopes will be up.

Added to that, of the eight seeded players in his half of the draw, five of them have already been knocked out, including second seed Rafael Nadal of Spain.

Anderson has only come up against Wawrinka on one previous occasion, going down in straight sets 6-4 7-5 to the Swiss player in the round-of-64 stages of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Miami, Florida last year.

Wawrinka is currently ranked 17th on the ATP Tour rankings but was ranked as hight as ninth back in 2008.

Anderson is the only male South African in action in the Rogers Cup. In the women’s tournament our top-ranked women’s player Chani Scheepers went down in the first round of qualifying. Now ranked 94th in the world, Scheepers went down 6-1 6-4 to Britain’s Heather Watson, ranked 104th on the WTA rankings.

Meanwhile, our third ranked men’s player, Izak van der Merwe, is currently playing the $50,000 Levene, Gouldin and Thompson Tennis Challenger in Binghamton, New York.

Seeded first for the Challenger event, he won his first round match 6-7 (2) 7-6 (3) 6-3 against Argentine player Facundo Bagnis. He now faces qualifier Adam El Mihdawy from the United States in the second round.

Anderson took time out this week to answer fans’ questions on the atpworldtour.com website. This is what he had to say:

For such a tall man, you have brilliant movement compared to the other big men. Do you work on this frequently and if so, what drills do you do?

I definitely think I move well for being taller. I work pretty hard at it by doing a lot of movement baseline drills. The first step is really important, so that’s something I work on a lot. I spend a lot of time doing tennis specific movements.

You had three great years at the University of Illinois. Do you have plans to complete your studies and why might college tennis be a good option for some guys who clearly have the talent to one day play on the ATP World Tour?

I’d love to go back. I turned pro my junior year, so I have 1.5-2 years of studying left. I think college is a great option. There are a lot of good tennis players. The whole setup is very conducive to improvement for a tennis player. You get your matches in the spring competing against other players and in the summer, you can go play all the pro tournaments in the States if you want. For me it was an excellent option and I highly recommend it to those people who feel they need to develop more before turning pro.

Who will win the US Open in 2011?ÔÇ¿

Well, hopefully I willÔǪ that’s my first pick. Djokovic has had an incredible year and will be extremely motivated for it. I think Nadal and Federer will be as well. I mean there are a lot of great players and it will be an interesting tournament. That’s why I think the US Open is one of the most exciting events.

Who is the hardest player to play against and who do you think is the nicest player on tour, male or female?ÔÇ¿

This year for me, Djokovic has been the toughest guy. I guess I’m not the only one who would say that. I’ve played him three times this year and he doesn’t give you anything. He makes it really tough for you.
Everybody on tour is pretty friendly. We spend so much time with each other, basically the entire year, so I think overall it’s a friendly atmosphere.

Kevin, you play for South Africa yet you had a successful tennis career in the States; Do you feel that when you play tournaments in the U.S. you’re more of a homecrowd player or outsider?

I definitely feel comfortable playing in the US. This is one of my favourite places to play outside of South Africa. Being here for 6-7 years now, I feel I’m getting some support in the States. The environment from Illinois, we had such a tennis loving community. Sometimes some guys will come watch me play, which is a lot of fun for me.

Who is your favourite current player on tour?

That’s always a tough one to answer. I look at them as fellow competitors, people I want to beat when I go out there on court, so I wouldn’t say I have a favourite. But I do admire a lot of the achievements the top guys in our sport have done.

Who in the Top 5 do you want to beat the most and why?ÔÇ¿

Whenever you get a Top 5 win, it’s truly special. It would be great to beat all of them. I’ve defeated two of them (Djokovic and Murray). I have three more to go so hopefully it won’t be too long until I’ll be able to do it.

Who was your tennis idol growing up?ÔÇ¿

Sampras. Even though my style of play isn’t modeled after his at all, I just think the way he handled himself, his demand for excellence and his achievements were unparalleled at the time. He gave me a lot of motivation.

What goals did you set for yourself for the North American summer-hard-court season?ÔÇ¿

My year-end goals are to finish in the Top 20. If I was able to do that by the end of the US Open, that would be a great achievement for me. It’s something I would definitely take if you gave it to me beforehand. It will be a lot of hard work, a lot of big tennis matches I’m going to have to win. I just love playing this time of year and will take it one match at a time, giving it my all.

Do you talk much with fellow big guys Karlovic and Isner, swapping stories about cramped airline seats and short hotel beds?

It’s kind of funny. I get so many questions about my height and I’m sure those guys do too. When we are together, we almost avoid the issue completely.

Will you play for your Davis Cup team against Croatia?ÔÇ¿

Yes, I am playing. We’re playing in South Africa, in Potchefstroom. Really looking forward to it and hopefully we can get back into the World Group.


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