Kevin Anderson may not have envisaged his return to Grand Slam championship play would end at 1:30 a.m. local time in Melbourne, but that’s what happened on Wednesday morning at the Australian Open.
The big-serving South African finally completed a 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) comeback victory over Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka in three hours and 54 minutes on court 1573 Arena.
The 33-year-old Anderson first recovered from 1-4 down in the fourth set and then saved one match point on serve at 4-5, 30/40 in the deciding set. He completed victory with an overhead, having gained the decisive mini-break in the final tie-break when he rushed to the net and Ivashka hit a backhand passing stroke wide.
Former World No. 4 Anderson played three matches for Team South Africa at the inaugural ATP Cup two weeks ago, since 2019 season-ending knee surgery in September. He played his last match in 2019 on 5 July against Guido Pella at Wimbledon.
In a bizarre match stat the match loser collected more total points than the winner.
It was a incredible effort by Anderson whose troublesome 2019 due to injury saw him slip down the rankings and come into the Australian swing with limited match practise.
Ivashka collected 161 points for Anderson’s 155.
Anderson on Thursday will now challenge American No. 29 seed Taylor Fritz in the second round, who was a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 winner over Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in 86 minutes earlier on day two.