Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

How I came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon: Kevin Anderson on his biggest win in 2018

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship's 2017 winner on the biggest achievement of his impressive 2018 season

Kevin Anderson shakes hands with Roger Federer after coming from two sets down to beat the seven-time major winner at Wimbledon in July. Getty
Kevin Anderson shakes hands with Roger Federer after coming from two sets down to beat the seven-time major winner at Wimbledon in July. Getty

Picture the scene. It is July of this year and a pleasant summer's afternoon in London, England.

You are playing good tennis yet you trudge back to your seat at Centre Court at Wimbledon in your quarter-final trailing by two sets in a best-of-five match.

To further depress you, the man sat on the other side of the umpire's chair is Roger Federer, the most successful player in the tournament's history with seven titles at SW19.

A player who is formidable on grass, as well as pretty much anywhere else in the world, and who has total control of proceedings at present.

Plus he does not really do losing from two sets up, having only lost four times previously from that position, once at Wimbledon in 2011 to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in a career that stretches back to turning professional in 1999.


Read more

Kevin Anderson: I want to face Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at Mubadala World Tennis Championship

MWTC: Complete player guide as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams head to Abu Dhabi

Dominic Thiem aims to continue great 2018 form at Mubadala World Tennis Championship

The Serena Williams interview: Taking on older sister Venus is 'the ultimate rivalry' for the champion

Rafael Nadal ready to get 'best preparation' for 2019 season at Mubadala World Tennis Championship


It cannot have been easy for Kevin Anderson, as he sat in his chair, to have too many upbeat thoughts about his prospects at this point.

Yet the South African would go on to do the almost impossible to fightback and prevailed 2-6, 6-7,7-5, 6-4, 13-11, saving a match point along the way, to eliminate the 20-time major winner.

So, how did he do it? Was there a eureka moment as the 32 year old sat in the chair for those few moments that made him one of the few players to come back from the brink and outlast Federer?

"I wasn't thinking too much to be honest with you," the world No 6 laughs when asked to recall his memories of how he had handled the occasion by The National as he prepares for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which starts on Thursday.

"I was down two sets to love and I thought I was playing much better in the second set, even though I lost it.

"In the third set I took the thoughts of winning or losing, and what I needed to do to win the match, I looked to put that out of my mind and focused what I could do in the present and I think that was obviously key for the match.

"When you have a two sets to love lead the chances of you winning the match are historically very high, because when you are down and the player trailing it is really tough to put it out of your mind.

"But I thought I did a really good job that day and I did it against arguably the greatest player to have ever played at Wimbledon so that definitely meant a lot to me."

It was not just beating Federer that gave Anderson satisfaction. It was the fact he was able to regroup from one of the biggest wins of his career and be able to triumph two days later in a gruelling semi-final with John Isner, which lasted six hours and 36 minutes.

"Getting through was really tough but I thought I also did a good job of handling the win well," he added.

"Often you could win that match and feel like your job is done and be happy with whatever happens but I felt I took it in my stride and reset for my next match very quickly."

The final would prove a match too far for him as he was beaten in straight sets by Novak Djokovic, but his memorable journey to his second major final was part of a 2018 he is proud of.

Having started the year ranked No 14, he has been in the top 10 since January 14. He reached the ATP Tour Finals in London for the first time in November, and won titles at the New York Open and the Austria Open.

"It has been a long year but a great year," he said as he prepares to compete at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

"It has been really exciting for me – the progress that I have made and the goals that I have set myself.

"I felt like I took some really good steps forward this year. I have been in the top 10 almost all year, winning a couple of tournaments and making London, which was a big goal of mine, and I feel like by taking those steps forward I can raise my goals for next year."

Those objectives are led by the target of winning a grand slam trophy. Having been to two finals, the US Open in 2017, and then Wimbledon this year, and lost them both, Anderson wants to repeat the experience in 2019, but with a happier outcome.

"Going one step further, winning my first grand slam. I have worked really hard to get here and I feel I am in a good position for that," he said.

"I also want to be in some Masters Series finals and hopefully lifting a trophy there too.

"It is a big step but it is the one that I have my eyes on. If I do that then the ranking will take care of itself and I will establish myself as a top five player, which is something that I am going to be working as hard as I can to get to."

Updated: December 25, 2018 04:37 PM



Editor's Picks