By Alex Welch/BB&T Atlanta Open
It wasn’t an easy road to the semifinals, but Kevin Anderson found himself moving on in the 2013 BB&T Atlanta Open after defeating Denis Istomin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
The No. 2 seed opened up with a strong service game, picking up two aces right away and setting the tone for what would be a relatively lax first set. A double fault from Istomin gave Anderson a 3-1 lead after his first break, allowing the South African to cruise the rest of the way.
Despite the promising start, though, Anderson struggled throughout the second set. Up 30-0 in the eighth game, a double fault and two unforced errors left Istomin pulling out his first break of the match. The Uzbek wasn’t letting Anderson walk away with a straight-set victory.
"Denis has a really clean strike on the ball, so I had to work pretty hard. I maybe slipped a little in the second set. I wasn’t making enough returns," said Anderson.
As they battled into the final frame, Istomin was on the brink of pulling off an upset. At 2-2, Istomin was staring at three break points. But Anderson dug deep with a forehand winner, an ace and a challenge that went in his favor and ultimately changed the outcome.
"I didn’t really think too much. At love-40, I was just trying to set myself a challenge of trying to get it back here," said Anderson. "The first point, the challenge was just on the outside edge of the line, and sometimes that’s just what it takes. That was definitely the turning point in the third set."
From that point on, Anderson regained control of the momentum and looked comfortable once again. He broke Istomin in the following game, and went on to close out with a 6-3 final set.
"I was just really happy with the way I played. From the baseline I was hitting the ball really nice off the racket," said Anderson.
As Anderson advances to the semis at Atlantic Station, he prepares for an opponent he’s never faced in tournament play. Ryan Harrison is the only competitor standing in the way of a final appearance, but according to Anderson, he isn’t unfamiliar with his next opponent.
"Ryan’s had a good week. He’ll be quite confident. I’ve played with him quite a bit in practice so I sort of know what to expect, but it’s going to be another tough match," said Anderson. "I’m going to have to play well, but I’m just going to approach it like any other match."
Anderson called a trainer twice during his quarterfinal match. He said it wasn’t much to worry about, though.
"I cut my finger on a knife a couple weeks ago. Last week it just split, and with the humidity it was sort of opening again, so I just wanted him to tape it up," said Anderson.
The cut didn’t seem to hinder his ability to serve his way out of trouble. He’ll have to bring the same heat Saturday night against Harrison.