The player himself knocks an inch off and admits to ‘just’ six feet seven. Regardless of the feet and inches, there’s no doubt that Kevin Anderson is a big deal in the tennis world – and with a career high world ranking of 28 attained earlier this year (he’s currently 34 ahead of the French Open), he’s looking forward to giving Mersey sports fans a glimpse of his big serving talents.
The South African headlines the ATP line up at the Liverpool International in Calderstones Park next month and is eagerly anticipating his first trip to Merseyside. “I’ve not actually been to England all that many times,” he admitted. “Even though I have an aunt, an uncle and three cousins living there.
“I’ve visited London a few times but all I know about Liverpool is what some of the other players have told me – and obviously the soccer team. “Some very good players have played the Liverpool International and hopefully the experience will help me improve my grasscourt game a little ahead of Wimbledon.”
Kevin clearly has the attributes to make an impact at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have both been victims – Djokovic his first big scalp at the Masters Series in Miami in 2008 and Murray at the World Tour Masters 1000 in Montreal last year.
And Kevin admits he has been working harder in recent months at getting forward from the baseline in a bid to make even more of an impact on the faster surface. “The thing I’ve worked the most on in the last few years is trying to come forward more, be more aggressive,” he explained. “I’m doing a lot better job of that. Before I was even too defensive. I’m trying to find more opportunities to come to the net.
“Since I’ve been playing I’ve always played from the baseline and I’ve worked really hard on it. “I’ve done a lot of agility work and worked with a couple of people who helped me with that. But I still know that is my biggest thing I continue to improve on is my speed and my footwork, and I spend a lot of time doing that.”
Kevin first gatecrashed the world’s top 100 in April 2010, but soared up the rankings after a title triumph in his native Johannesburg later that year. Earlier this year he added his second ATP title, the Delray Beach Championship, beating Andy Roddick, the even taller John Isner and former Liverpool International champion Xavier Malisse en route to the title.
Kevin began playing tennis at six-years of age – and cites WImbledon’s greatest ever champion as one of his inspirations. “I always looked up at Pete Sampras and more recently Federer and Nadal, just the way they handle themselves and how great they are for the sport.
“It doesn’t really reflect too much on my game, although I am trying to become more aggressive, so I guess I look at Federer and learn a lot of his patterns of play. I try and learn what I can from him.” Kevin will be hoping to learn a lot more about handling grass at Calderstones Park next month.