Kevin Anderson wishes this weren’t the case, but he’s familiar with returning to tennis after a lengthy layoff.
The South African bounced back from an injury-ridden 2016 season by reaching his first Grand Slam final at the 2017 US Open, then matched that effort at 2018 Wimbledon to reach his career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 5. Anderson hopes to surpass that inspired effort when action resumes on Tour at the Western & Southern Open. The tournament is being held this year at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York due to COVID-19.
Right elbow and right knee injuries, the latter of which required two surgeries, have limited Anderson to eight tournaments since January 2019. But with extra time to work on his fitness as he remained at home in Florida during this year’s suspension of play, he declared himself injury-free ahead of his return to competition. When he’s at full strength, his potent all-court game is still good enough to defeat anyone.
Anderson spoke with ATPTour.com about the three keys he looks to utilise for a successful return to tennis.
Anderson’s Comeback Goals: Grand Slam & Masters 1000 Titles
Transition From Practice To Matches
In a practice setting, you’re more observant of what’s going on and chatting with a coach who’s providing feedback. I’ve gotten to train with a few guys who were in the Delray Beach area. I hit a bunch of times with Cristian Garin, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul.
But in a match, it’s all about getting that win. It’s important to make the shift in going from practice mode to a competitive mode. It’s never going to be quite the same, but you want to recreate match conditions as closely as possible in building up to a tournament.
You haven’t been competing and playing, so you don’t necessarily know your level and how you’re going to feel when you get on the match court. My team and I have set really high goals with tournaments and Grand Slams that I want to win. There’s a path to get there, but those are the sights we’ve set and now it’s about focussing on the process.
Feelings Of Familiarity
There might be some upgrades on-site or slightly different procedures at a tournament [each year], but I mostly know what to expect at this point. This will be the biggest adjustment by far that we’ve had to make at a tournament for some time. It’ll be important to adapt quickly to the different circumstances on Tour. I do a pretty good job of adapting in general and that will be important not just in New York, but also when the Tour goes over to Europe.