In a clash between one of the Tour’s veterans and a young gun, both of whom are having breakout years in their own ways, Kevin Anderson takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the final in Toronto. Neither man has ever reached a Masters 1000 final, this is only Anderson’s second semifinal and it is Tsitsipas’ first. But whilst the Greek is looking to reach just a second title-match at any level, Anderson has reached two Grand Slam finals in the last 12 months. Who will come out on top?
Tsitsipas and Anderson have met once before with that match coming in Estoril on the clay earlier this season. The 19-year-old arrived in Portugal riding a wave of success, having just reached the final in Barcelona. In Estoril, Anderson was the top seed, but he was also playing his first clay court match of the season and it showed. Despite winning the first set, the South African never really got to grips with his opponent and Tsitsipas was a deserving 6-7 6-3 6-3 victor.
Path to the semifinals
Anderson, the fourth seed in Canada, began his tournament in the round of 32 against Evgeny Donskoy after a bye. He made a slow start, and Donskoy capitalised to win the first set. But Anderson fought back and, despite throwing away a lead in the decider, came through 4-6 6-2 7-6. He then defeated Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka 7-5 6-3 to set up a clash with fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov. It proved a one-sided affair as Anderson dominated to win 6-2 6-2.
Tsitsipas, unseeded, arrived in Toronto after a great run in Washington and continued his good form to best Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-6. He then added to the woes Dominic Thiem, who has won just three matches since the French Open final, beating him 6-3 7-6. The Greek then shocked an unfocused Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-7 6-3 to set up a rematch with Alexander Zverev who had crushed him in Washington. But Tsitsipas won 3-6 7-6 6-4 leaving Zverev furious after a poor performance.
How do they match up?
Both men are equipped with real firepower. Anderson’s best shot is unsurprisingly his serve given that he stands 6’8” tall, but he is far from a one-trick pony. His forehand is amongst the most powerful in the game and cut through Dimitrov’s defence with ease. His backhand is also rock-solid, leaving him without the obvious weakness that plagues fellow big man John Isner. His movement can, however, be exploited. But to get him moving one has to withstand that power.
Tsitsipas has weapons himself, notably his excellent forehand with which he has been spreading the court excellently all week. His backhand, a flowing single-hander, is sure to earn him plenty of fans over the coming years and has been effective so far this week, though less so than his forehand. But his returning game is not a strength, particularly on that backhand side. That may cause him problems against the thunderbolts Anderson can deliver when stepping to the line.
It has been another excellent run for Tsitsipas and his meteoric rise should take him inside the top 20 when the rankings are released on Monday. But in Anderson he is facing a man full of confidence and in the best form of his life. The manner in which he dismantled Dimitrov was frightening and as impressive as Tsitsipas’ victories over Djokovic and Zverev were, his opponents did much to aid his cause. He will get no such aid from the South African. Anderson in straight sets.