Kevin Anderson. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
- There are distinct similarities about the declining tennis careers of Andy Murray and Kevin Anderson.
- Both are battling to make it into the world’s top 100 and are hampered by injuries.
- A talented younger generation is also increasingly blocking their path.
Amid the spate of problems blocking the way of Andy Murray and South Africa’s Kevin Anderson as they attempt to revive their careers to a level resembling something of the past is a growing group of young guns with blistering talent.
And demonstrating in no small measure how this young brigade with exceptional talent, vast potential and an awesome level of fitness is making its presence felt with a growing degree of awe is the manner 22-year-old Russian dynamo Andrey Rublev not only beat Anderson in the current French Open at Roland Garros, but crushed the 6ft 8in South African with a degree of disdain in his 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 third round victory.
Rublev broke Anderson’s renowned serve no fewer than five times in the one-sided match, never looked like dropping his own service once and dominated most of the torrid rallies almost as a formality.
Even more of a one-sided exercise was Stan Wawrinka’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 first round demolition at Roland Garros that left Murray bothered, bewildered, and well-nigh embarrassed.
With three Grand Slam titles to his credit, six further Grand Slam final appearances and a short period as the world’s No 1, Britain’s 33-year-old Murray boasts an immense career record of far greater immensity than the impressive achievements of the 34-year-old Anderson, who has qualified for two Grand Slam finals and reached a ranking of fifth in the world for a brief period.
But presently there are distinct similarities about the declining careers of Murray and Anderson, who are both battling to make it into the world’s top 100 players, no less; both have been hampered in no small manner by recurring injuries in the past two years, which have required surgeries and found that increasing age has also seemingly proved a factor in blunting their prowess.
And now emerging on the horizon to further add to Murray and Anderson’s comeback attempt for a place of renewed ranking prominence is the emergence of such feared adversaries as Dominic Thiem, the recent US Open winner, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Denis Shapovalov, Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger Aliassime, the 19-year-old Italian sensation, Jannik Sinner, who has already been touted as a future world No 1 – and, of course, Rublev as well in the elite group.
This depth in talent, added to present form guides, suggests there is little or no chance of Murray or Anderson again featuring among the world’s top 10 ranked players. Indeed a place among the top 20 would be quite an achievement.
Interestingly, all-time tennis legends Novak Djokovic (33) and Rafael Nadal (34) have thus far warded off the challenge to their status as the world’s No 1 and 2 players respectively.
But what of the iconic Roger Federer, who holds the record of most Grand Slam titles (20) ahead of Nadal (19) and Djokovic (17), when he makes his announced return to tennis at the age of 39 next year following an absence due to knee surgery?
Will he too find the young guns too hot to handle – much like Murray and Anderson!