Kevin Anderson is in the midst of a career-best year he heads into the US Open as the fifth seed. He has also twice made a Grand Slam final in the last twelve months, in New York last September and last month at Wimbledon. That suggests he will be a contender this year, and he begins against local Ryan Harrison in the first round. Harrison is ranked a reasonable #56 in the world, but in his nine years on the Tour he has never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam.
These two have met on three occasion, with Anderson leading the head-to-head 2-1. He got over the line in the first two matches - in Atlanta in 2013 and in Stockholm in 2016 - in straight sets, though both were tight. The first match was a 6-3 7-6 win to the South African, the second a 7-6 6-4 victory. Their most recent match up was in Tokyo last year, and on that occasion Harrison picked up the win. He outlasted Anderson in a tight three-setter, eventually winning 6-3 1-6 7-6.
Last time out
Anderson is coming off a good couple of months. His last tournament wasn’t anything to write home about, as he was bundled out in his second match by David Goffin in Cincinnati, but prior to that he made the semifinals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. He lost an extremely tight match to Stefanos Tsitsipas there. He also reached the final, as mentioned above, at Wimbledon, where he scored a very impressive comeback win against Roger Federer.
Harrison’s last tournament was an unsuccessful one; he was defeated in the first round of the qualifiers in Cincinnati. Before that, he too played at the Canadian Open, beating world #83 Mackenzie McDonald before losing to world #125 Ilya Ivashka. He had a very solid outing late in July, however, when he made the final of the Atlanta Open in a tournament which saw all five of his matches go into a deciding third set.
How do they match up?
Anderson, standing at 6’8”, unsurprisingly relies heavily on his powerful serve, which is one of the best on the Tour. But as he has shown throughout his career, however, and particularly in recent times, he is far from a one-trick pony. He has a dangerous forehand and a solid backhand and is well and truly capable of matching it off the ground with the best. Indeed, it has been his impressive groundstrokes that have elevated him into the top ten.
The one area in which Harrison may be able to expose him is in his movement. Harrison is the more mobile of the two, with his reflexes perhaps the most impressive element of his game. The American also has a strong serve and a powerful forehand, and will likely look to utilise these strengths to move Anderson around the court as much as possible. But it is harder to keep the ball away from Anderson's hitting zone that it might appear.
The last match up between these two players showed that Harrison can match it with the South African on his day, but don’t expect that to happen here. Anderson is in excellent form and showed his abilities at last year’s US Open. A maiden Grand Slam title seems a distinct possibility in the future for the 32-year-old, and this tournament could be his best chance yet. Expect him to dispose of Harrison with relative ease in a three set win.