Kevin Anderson continued his impressive run at the US Open as he stormed into his first ever Grand Slam final, defeating fellow first-time Major semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta in four tough sets, prevailing after two hours and 54 minutes. The 28th seed now awaits either Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin del Potro for the championship match.
Coming into the Match
Both players were high on confidence especially with Anderson defeating home favorite Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals and Carreno Busta not losing a set on his way to the semifinals. This was the first ever Grand Slam semifinal appearance for either player, with the winner being ensured a debut in his first Grand Slam final. Anderson was the slight favorite in this encounter as he leads Carreno Busta 2-0 in their head-to-head, with their last meeting coming in Montreal this year.
Carreno Busta breaks first and serves out the set 6-4
Both players were strong servers and did not look like giving up their service games early in the match. Anderson has been claimed as one of the game’s best servers currently, and he leads the men’s field in the most number of aces served. Being one of the game’s biggest “rising stars” this year, even though at the age of 26, Carreno Busta is having the best season of his career thus far especially after breaking into the Top 20 and reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinals (Roland Garros, US Open).
After six consecutive service holds to start the match with, a break point finally surfaced as a couple of unforced errors caused Anderson to play a loose game, eventually gifting the break to the Spaniard after sending a backhand long. With neither of them able to find any more breakthroughs on the return, Carreno Busta ultimately served out the first set 6-4 after 33 minutes of play.
Anderson gets past a tussle and breaks for the second set
The second set was much more eventful with a couple of service breaks being scattered around. It all started in the fourth game when Anderson produced some of his best returns to earn his first break points and the aggressive play from him was simply too good for the stubborn defense of Carreno Busta, taking the lead for the first time in the match.
However, he had several troubles trying to consolidate the break as he failed to find his first serves when it mattered, coupled with the fact that Carreno Busta was playing some amazing tennis after he came up with two impressive passing winners during that game itself, including one on break point which allowed him to break straight back.
It was a string of six straight service holds which followed before Carreno Busta served to stay in the set at 5-6 down. The pressure seemed to have overwhelmed him as he threw in his first double fault of the match at 30-30, gifting Anderson a set point. A bullet-like backhand winner sealed the second set for the South African, leveling the match at one set all.
Anderson strolls to win the third set
The South African had the perfect start to the third set especially when he strolled to a comfortable service hold before earning a 0-40 lead on the return. Nonetheless, the adrenaline of Carreno Busta seemed to have suddenly shot up as he came up with some of his best serves to claim five consecutive points, letting out a huge roar after holding his serve narrowly.
However, Anderson was just too solid as it soon became a one-way traffic, claiming the next three games to open up a huge 4-1 lead. Despite Carreno Busta’s toughest fight, it still was not enough to match up against Anderson’s explosive game as the 28th seed eventually served out the third set 6-3 after 39 minutes.
Anderson seals the win and a spot in his maiden Grand Slam final
Starting the fourth set serving, it was a bright start for Carreno Busta as he looked to have regained his composure and found the momentum. However, he was still unable to find any replies to the invincible Anderson serve and thus remained on serve in the early stages. The Spaniard’s serve is definitely not one of the strongest in terms of power, which thus has its vulnerability as Anderson was in the hunt for a breakthrough.
The South African finally drew first blood as Carreno Busta started to lose confidence in himself, with more unforced errors coming off his racquet. The 2.03m tall Anderson had the golden opportunity to earn a double-break lead in the seventh game, but wasted two break points and allowed Carreno Busta to lessen the deficit instead.
Another marathon game on the Spaniard’s serve followed, this time with five deuces but Anderson was unable to find a match point opportunity as Carreno Busta narrowly held his serve and forced his opponent to serve out the match. Nerves seemed to have affected Anderson when he fell short in two lengthy rallies to go down 15-30, but a risky backhand volley winner got him back into the game, and he ultimately sealed the emotional victory after two hours and 54 minutes.
Next up for Anderson: First Grand Slam final
Kevin Anderson next faces either world number one Rafael Nadal in the first ever Grand Slam final of his career. Although he holds a 0-4 head-to-head record against Nadal, the South African will be looking to continue his incredible run and cause a huge upset in the final.