By John Delong, Winston-Salem Open
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Kevin Anderson is starting to settle into this week’s Winston-Salem Open quite nicely.
The 29-year-old South African advanced to his sixth quarterfinal of the year on Wednesday afternoon with an impressive 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over 2014 WSO finalist Jerzy Janowicz.
Anderson, the second seed, pounded out 16 aces, dominated a first-set tie-break, and then cashed in on the only break opportunity he needed in the second set.
It was a far-better performance than his 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Mikhail Kukushkin in his opening match on Tuesday, and it is a sign that he is feeling more comfortable in his surroundings at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
“Once you’re in the tournament, I find it a little bit easier to play,” Anderson said. “You are just more accustomed to conditions and you’re in your routine more. Obviously you try to approach each match the same, but as you progress I think you get a little more confident and comfortable as well.”
Anderson will now face 18-year-old Borna Coric in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“I was really pleased with today’s performance,” Anderson said. “I think it was an improvement from yesterday. I really served well today. That was my big goal coming into today. Especially when you’re playing a big server like Jerzy, that’s one of the most-important aspects. I thought I did a good job of staying patient on the returns. I didn’t necessarily feel I returned my best, but when it counted I definitely made some returns and I can take some positives out of that. It was a good performance. I definitely feel I played well.”
Anderson let two set points slip away at 5-4 in the first set, but dominated the tie-break, helped by a Janowicz double-fault.
He fought off two break points in his first service game of the second set, then got his only break of the match to go up 3-2. He easily held serve the rest of the way, and won the final game at love, ending it with his 16th ace.
“It was really important for me to save a couple of break points at the beginning of the second set,” Anderson said. “That was one of the important aspects of today’s match. You don’t want to go down a break against an obviously great server. I think holding there and staying level was key. And then I was able to capitalize on the one break point I had.”
Janowicz saw the match a little differently. He was upset about a foot fault in the game in which he was broken, so upset that he received a code violation at the end of the game for hitting a ball out of the stadium in anger.
“First set, good fight from both players,” Janowicz saiad. “Tie-break, you never know how it’s going to be in the tie-break. So I lost it. And then the second set was completely destroyed by the linesman which called the foot fault after my ace when it was 30-30. That just destroyed the match. Being broken is nothing special, but being broken because of the linesman, this is painful.”
In other afternoon matches, eighth-seeded 18-year-old Borna Coric had an easy time in dispatching Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1; 2014 semifinalist Yen-Hsun Lu pulled out a 7-6 (1), 1-6, 7-5 win over 19-year-old Hyeon Chung; Malek Jaziri beat 15th-seeded Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-5, 6-4; and sixth-seeded Thomasz Bellucci beat 11th-seeded Jiri Vesely 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-4.
Coric, the highest ranked teenager in the ATP World Tour rankings at No. 38, said he played much better than he did in beating Santiago Giraldo in three sets on Monday. He will face Anderson in the quarterfinals.
“It was very solid,” Coric said. “I didn’t know that I’m going to play that good, so I was surprised. But actually I was very good. It feels very good to be in the quarterfinals. I’m just really happy to get through, but now I’m going to have a very tough match. He is serving very big, but, you know, I need to take my chances.”
Lu emerged from a wild match with Chung. He dominated the first-set tie-break, lost all rhythm in the second set, and then had to come from a break down to win. He suffered a back injury at 5-5 in the third set, and that puts his status in question for his quarterfinal match against the winner of the Jo-Wilfried Tsgona-Steve Johnson match Wednesday night.
“Today is a very tough match,” Lu said. “This young guy, he’s playing very solid. It was quality tennis and there was a lot of pressure from every moment. Final set we were both up, down. It was a really close match. I’m obviously happy to go through but unfortunately I think I hurt my back and I have to call a trainer to make sure it’s not a bad, bad injury. I hope I can play tomorrow, I will give it my best, but I don’t want to do anything to hurt my back with the US Open coming up.”