Anderson carried plenty of momentum into the year’s first Grand Slam, as the No. 6 player in the ATP Rankings captured his sixth ATP Tour title at the Tata Open Maharashtra. He is also fresh off his first appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
So while one year ago, Anderson was unable to hold a break-lead in the fifth set of his first-round match in Melbourne against eventual semi-finalist Kyle Edmund, the South African would not be deterred. Anderson maintained his focus, hitting 47 winners en route to a two-hour, 53-minute victory.
About an hour into play, it appeared Anderson would move through without difficulty, taking a set-and-a-break lead. But suddenly, Mannarino found his way into more of Anderson’s service games, and the left-hander would break twice in the second set to even the match at a set apiece, with his flat strokes throwing his opponent’s rhythm off for a short time.
But Anderson immediately regrouped, dropping just three games the rest of the way. He has now won eight of his past nine sets against Mannarino, and leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-1. Mannarino found it difficult to assert himself in points against the baseline-hugging Anderson, making 18 unforced errors in the final two sets.
Anderson will next face 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Frances Tiafoe or Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran. Anderson and Tiafoe clashed three times last season. But while the fifth seed won on all three/ occasions, Tiafoe pushed him to three sets on two occasions.
Did You Know?
Anderson went two-and-a-half years between his third tour-level title at 2015 Winston-Salem and his fourth trophy at last year’s New York Open. But Anderson has already triumphed twice since that victory in New York, coming out on top in Vienna last year and Pune in the first week of this season.