Kevin Anderson and Sam Querrey will face off for the inaugural New York Open title at the Nassau Veterans Coliseum on Long Island as both men look for their first titles of the season. Anderson, the top seed and last year’s US Open runner-up, is a three-time ATP Tour titlist, and an 11-time runner-up but hasn’t won a title since 2015. Querrey, meanwhile, has ten titles and won two last year. Will the home hope win through or will Anderson’s New York love affair continue?
Anderson and Querrey, both of whom are now in their 30’s have had a long and largely even rivalry. Their first match came over a decade ago in Sacramento on the Challenger Tour. Querrey won that one in three sets, and also claimed their first Tour-level meeting, which was in the final at the Las Vegas Open again in straight sets. It took Anderson until their fourth meeting, which came at the Rogers Cup in 2010, to get his first win, as he defeated Querrey in a hard fought three setter.
Anderson has asserted himself in the rivalry since, which Querrey currently leads eight matches to seven. But it is the South African who has won the last two, including arguably their most significant, at the US Open in the quarterfinals last year. Anderson won it 7-6 6-7 6-3 7-6 as he was able to have the better of the big moments throughout. That denied Querrey the chance to make his second straight Slam semi, whilst Anderson took advantage and made the final.
Path to the final
Anderson, as the top seed, received a first round bye and opened his New York Open campaign against Ernesto Escobedo, the young Californian, in the round of 16. Escobedo began brightly, winning the first set, but Anderson’s experience ultimately told as he came back to win in three, with a tiebreak deciding the match. He also needed three sets to defeat Frances Tiafoe in the quarterfinals, with the young American winning the second but proving unable to keep it up.
That left Anderson facing off against Kei Nishikori for a place in the final. The Japanese star was a four-time titlist at the Memphis Open which the Long Island event has replaced in the calendar, and was making his comeback to Tour after a long injury absence. He looked like a player on the comeback trail as Anderson ran away with the first set, winning it 6-1. But Nishikori battled back to level the match in the second, winning it 6-3. Ultimately though, Anderson was able to get across the line in another deciding set tiebreak to make the final.
Querrey, seeded second, also received a first round bye and began against Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny, who was once ranked as high as 8th in the world but is now outside the top 90. Querrey encountered few problems, winning comfortably 6-4 6-3. He then came through a battle of the big servers, defeating Ivo Karlovic in a match that perhaps unsurprisingly featured two tiebreaks. In the semifinals he accounted for fourth seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, recovering from dropping the first set to win 6-7 7-5 6-3.
How do they match up?
With both men standing over 6-and-a-half-feet tall their serves are understandably the bedrocks of their games. However, they should not be viewed as nothing but big servers. Indeed, they are probably the best ball strikers amongst the sport’s big men and both are solid off both backhand and forehand side. Thus, whilst this won’t have as many long rallies as a clash between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray it also won’t just be an exhibition of serving.
Perhaps ironically, the key to this match may in fact be in the two’s return games. With both likely to serve a high number of aces and have a good first serve percentage, whoever is able to take advantage of second serves and hit aggressive returns will have a significant advantage. It may well be worth the risk of missing the return to try and hit it aggressively, in order to put mental pressure on the server.
Anderson has probably been playing marginally the better tennis over the past six months in what has been a purple patch for both men. But, Querrey has the better record in finals and over the course of his career has been able to step it up when it matters most, whilst Anderson has faltered on several occasions. That might well be enough to tip what is an incredibly close match up in the American’s favour. Querrey in three tight sets.
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