Anderson Tames Querrey In Dallas Battle Of Big Servers

Kevin Anderson (photo: Dallas Open/Alex Smith)

DALLAS/WASHINGTON, February 8, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

After months of anticipation, the Dallas Open began main draw play Monday in North Texas with a first-round match between a pair of big-serving ATP Tour veterans, 101st-ranked Kevin Anderson of South Africa and No. 118 Sam Querrey of the United States. The two big men – six-foot-eight Anderson and six-foot-six Querrey – came in with a long history spanning 16 tour-level matches on all surfaces dating back to 2008. They’ve even teamed together in doubles.

In the 17th career head-to-head meeting among these former Top 20 stars, the 35-year-old Anderson broke their 8-8 series tie by powering his way to a 61-minute 6-4, 6-4 victory over Querrey inside the Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex at Southern Methodist University.

The victory was Anderson’s first of the season after losing a pair of matches in Australia to begin 2022, including a first-round loss another American, Reilly Opelka, in the Australian Open. Meanwhile, it was Querrey’s ninth straight loss going back to the second round of Wimbledon last June.

“We’ve been playing each other since 2008,” Anderson said during an on-court interview following his victory. “He’s the person I’ve played the most on tour. It’s always a tough match [against him]. I came out and served really well and I’m very pleased with that. I knew it was going to be a tough match, just a point here and a point there. I was able to capitalize on a couple of break points. It feels good to win my first match of the year. I’m very pleased with that.”

Anderson won the 30-minute opening set with a pair of commanding aces – his 10th and 11th –during his fifth service game. The South African’s break of Querrey’s serve in the seventh game proved to be a difference maker, plus Anderson dropped only three points on his serve as he kept the American off-balance and guessing throughout the set.

Then, after holding serve with back-to-back aces at 4-all – his 19th and 20th – Anderson broke Querrey in the ninth game to pull ahead 5-4. He needed just four big serves to win and move into the second round – and he did just that, picking up his 21st ace along the way.

Anderson won 88 percent (30 of 34) of his first-serve points and dropped just seven points on serve. He did not face any break points and converted both break-point opportunities he had against Querrey. Anderson outpointed Querrey 57-44. The 34-year-old American countered with 11 aces and won 72 percent (39 of 54) of his service points. However, he was never able to figure out Anderson’s serve and that proved a big difference in the outcome.

Next, Anderson will play No. 3 seed John Isner of the United States. Isner leads their career head-to-head 8-5.

“I’ve played John many times before as well,” Anderson said. “I’ll just need to focus my service game and create opportunities on the return. I’m just pleased with today’s win. It’s great to get through.”

Also advancing to the second round was the youngest player in the draw, 20-year-old eighth seed Brandon Nakashima of the United States, who struck 15 aces in defeating No. 89 John Millman of Australia, 7-5, 7-6 (3), in an hour and 47 minutes. The 82nd-ranked Nakashima outpointed Millman 76-67. Next, he will face either No. 102 Feliciano Lopez of Spain or No. 83 Jordan Thompson of Australia.

Pospisil leads four qualifiers into the main draw

Meanwhile, the final four places in the main draw were decided Monday afternoon. No. 150 Vasil Pospisil of Canada, who was top-seeded in the qualifying draw, defeated No. 169 Christopher Eubanks of the United States, 7-3, 7-6 (3), in back of 10 aces and two breaks of his opponent’s serve.

Joining Pospisil in the main draw by No. 153 Jurij Rodionov of Austria, who defeated No. 171 Jason Jung of Taiwan, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; No. 121 Liam Broady of Great Britain, who beat No. 182 Thomas Fabbiano of Italy, 6-2, 6-3; and No. 231 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany, who advanced over No. 262 Yosuke Watanuki of Japan, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4.

Around the Dallas Open with John Isner

World No. 26 and third seed John Isner, who lives within walking distance of the Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex at Southern Methodist University, is serving as a tournament ambassador. He spent some time earlier this week giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at this new ATP 250 indoor hardcourt tournament.

Isner, who is teamed with Jack Sock in the doubles draw, sat courtside to watch his longtime friend and fellow American Sam Querrey’s match against Kevin Anderson.

Naomi Osaka: Makes a surprise visit to Dallas Open

Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka was a surprise visitor to the Dallas Open on Sunday. She sat courtside to watch her friend, American Christopher Eubanks, in action during the qualifying draw. Osaka was in town for her boyfriend, American rapper Cordae’s Dallas concert.

Monday’s Dallas Open results

Tuesday’s Dallas Open order of play

Noteworthy …

• Although this is the first year of the Dallas Open, the tournament’s early-February place on the ATP Tour calendar has a long history going back more than 50 years. Previously, the tournament was held in New York (2018-20), and before that in Memphis, Tenn. (2014-17), San Jose, Calif. (1994-2013) and the San Francisco Bay Area (1968-1993). Also, Dallas was the longtime home of World Championship Tennis, from 1971-89.

• With the Dallas Open being held on a college campus – and the main court red and blue colors are a tribute to the team colors of the host Southern Methodist University Mustangs – it seems only natural that many of the 28 players in the main draw have played collegiate tennis in the United States. They include: Dallas resident and tournament host John Isner (University of Georgia), Kevin Anderson (University of Illinois), Steve Johnson (University of Southern California), Tennys Sandgren (University of Tennessee), Brandon Nakashima (University of Virginia) and Maxime Cressy (UCLA). Local wild card Caleb Chakravarthi, who currently plays for Southern Methodist University in Dallas, makes his ATP Tour debut on “College Night” Tuesday against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.