Brisbane, Australia; Djokovic might have termed Kevin Anderson’s instant success the best after squeezing past the South African on Saturday night: “Absence from the Tour, obviously, didn’t really affect his game too much.”
Chile’s Cristian Garin would agree. Anderson, playing in his first tournament in seven months, beat Chile’s No. 1 6-0, 6-3 to deliver South Africa its first ATP Cup tie victory on Monday afternoon in Brisbane.
The former World No. 5 dropped only two first-service points (24/26) and didn’t face a break point against the 23-year-old Garin, who was looking to force a deciding doubles match and give Chile a chance at its first ATP Cup tie win.
“Got off to a really good start and I feel like a lot of things we have been working on, I was able to implement them,” Anderson said. “Great that I was able to play a good match, and with Lloyd [Harris] playing well as well, get our first win for our team.”
Anderson played only five tournaments last year because of injuries (right elbow, right knee) and underwent season-ending knee surgery in September. Before Saturday at the ATP Cup, he last played in the third round of Wimbledon in July 2019.
“A little bit physically draining after my first match. It’s always, as much as you work off the court, it’s always a little bit different being in a match environment,”Anderson said. “But a really good day of recovery yesterday and my body felt really good being out there today.”
Harris setup Anderson for the tie-clinching opportunity by beating Chile’s Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-4. The World No. 99 broke three times and fought off a late surge from Jarry, who won his maiden ATP Tour title last year on clay in Bastad.
“I’m super happy. I went down early at the start with the break, but came back strong straight away, broke him to love, and I think I just built on confidence from there,” Harris said. “Started serving well, hitting some spots, going more for percentage and I feel like I just constructed the match very well and it panned out as I wanted.”
Harris, 22, had his best season in 2019 and was steady against the 6’6″ Jarry, hitting 24 winners to 14 unforced errors. Jarry, who recently started working with coach Dante Bottini, dropped his eighth consecutive match, dating back to last season.
Bottini recently split with Japan’s Kei Nishikori, whom he helped for nine years. “I just changed coaches for first time in all my career, so we’re adapting things,” Jarry said. “I think we have improved a lot of things since the three to four weeks that I’ve been training with Dante. And I have to just be calm and trust the process that this will lead to be a better player.”
Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse made it a perfect day for the South Africans, beating Garin/Jarry 1-6, 6-3, 10-7.