Anderson, Harris Faced Daunting First-Round US Open Assignments

NEW YORK, August 31, 2020 (Tennis SA Press Release)

The 2020 US Open draw has served up a mixed bag for South Africa’s two singles players, Kevin Anderson and Lloyd Harris, both of whom will be in action on Monday’s Day 1 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.

Unseeded Anderson will go up against the fifth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in what has been billed as a showpiece first-round clash on Centre Court. Anderson presently 124 world-ranked, is a former US Open finalist. He is on a comeback trail and has never defeated World No. 7 Zverev in five previous outings.

The form book suggests that Anderson is unlikely to change the course of history on Monday. However, both players will go into the match without form to speak off. In last week’s Western & Southern Open (ATP Masters 1000) warm-up event, Zverev made a first-round exit and Anderson lasted one round more.

The experience and build-up to the event is vastly different from anything that players have experienced in the past. The players all live in a bio bubble and there is minimum contact with family and supporting staff.

And that might be crucial to the performances at this year’s event. Zverev, for example, has very few members of his supporting staff with him for this event. He is usually surrounded by family at events, but it is not the case this time.

Anderson’s serve remains his most trusted weapon and if it works well on the day, Zverev will be in trouble. One fears, however, that Anderson needs to play more on his comeback trail before he will be anything like a former world No 5. The centre court showdown offers the kind of expansive platform that could bring the best out of Anderson.

Zverev usually trades on solid groundstrokes and he moves well on the court. He brings a strong all-around game and should prevail on the clash which is scheduled the second match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s going to be a much different experience than normal,” said Anderson. “I’m feeling inspired after having this time off and not playing much in the past 18 months.

“Some of the issues that held me back last year and the beginning of this year have resolved themselves, so that’s a positive for me.”

Harris to face Cecchinato

The draw was not so cruel to Harris, a world No 97 who faces Italy’s Marco Cecchinato who slots in at 106 on the rankings.

Harris, who is with his coach Anthony Harris in the New York bio bubble, also does not have access to all his supporting staff.

“The Cincinnati Open was played at Flushing Meadows, so I have had time to adapt to the courts,” said Harris.

“I feel the protocols are strict and rightly so. Everybody is doing an amazing job to follow all the rules, and the US open has created a safe environment, which is very important for hosting big events.

“It is fair to say it is the same (facing challenges) for all players. I am feeling comfortable and looking to improve on last week’s performance.”

Harris has never played Cecchinato before, and both players have never moved beyond first-round play at the US Open.

Cecchinato is a former world No 16, and also on the comeback trail after serving an 18-month ban which ended in January 2018.

Raven Klaasen is the only other South African in the 2020 US Open doubles field. He’ll play in the doubles with Austria’s Oliver Marach. They are seeded 7th and the draw will take place Monday.