Australian Open upsets nearly made a headline out of Kevin Anderson in his third round match against the Frenchman Rogger-Vasselin. The South African however, although he trailed for the majority of the match, never at any point appeared to throw in the towel and eventually prevailed against his French competitor 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 7-5. So it is that the Australian Open saw Kevin Anderson win yet another five set comeback in just three rounds.
The Australian Open being the first major in the year, coming off somewhat of an offseason, combined with the fact that some top players usually need one or two early round matches to really find their form, means that early round upsets are a ripe possibility at the Open. Kevin Anderson nearly ended up joining Juan Martin Del Potro in this years Australian Open upsets category in his third round thriller.
During the first two sets, Anderson, known for a huge serve and punishing groundstrokes was matched blow for blow by the Frenchman, and the Roger-Vasselin was simply too good for the South African. It appeared in protracted rallies that Anderson’s groundstrokes would either break down, or simply not do enough damage and allow the Frenchman to eventually find and rip valuable winners. As the third set barreled towards the finish line however, Roger-Vasselin inexplicably went off the boil.
While on serve and leading 40-0 midway through the third set, the Frenchman allowed anderson to comeback to deuce and eventually break serve. From that point on it appeared for the rest of the third set that the Frenchman had retreated into a shell of doubt and fatigue. As Roger-Vasselin appeared to fade, Kevin Anderson’s Australian Open hopes received new life in the third set and it looked to be another five set comeback in the making.
The third set came to a close with Roger-Vasselin having received medical attention, Kevin Anderson bolstered with new life, and the crowd happy to be treated to more tennis. The fourth set saw more of the same from Anderson. The South African looked to be a new man after his opponent squandered a 40-0 game and eventually the set. Anderson began swinging freely, winning more protracted rallies, and appeared willing to take more risks that his French opponent.
After looking totally dominant for nearly a set and a half, Roger-Vasselin led on the scoreboard but looked to be playing catch-up with the free-swinging South African. The Frenchman did his best to withstand the big hitting and eventually forced a tie break in the fourth set. Yet again, Roger-Vasselin found an impressive bit of form and propelled himself to a quick 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker, looking to be in compete control. Kevin Anderson, down by two breaks in the breaker however looked no worse for ware, seemingly confident that his Australian Open hopes were not dead yet, and looked as though he believed yet another five set comeback was possible.
Just at the point where the Frenchman looked to be in command, he put a routine backhand into the net and gave one mini-break back to the South African. Anderson then level the tiebreaker at 4-4 and eventually prevailed to take the fourth set. After suffering two blown opportunities however, the Frenchman showed amazing competitiveness as he dug deep and brought himself to a match-point in the fifth and final set. Anderson, having withstood several close calls was unshaken, and after surviving Roger-Vasselin’s match-point, the South African closed out the match with a roar and a smile.
So, as it stands now, this years Australian Open will not be adding Kevin Anderson’s name to the list of upsets as the South African fights his way to another five set comeback in just three rounds of play.
Commentary by Daniel Worku