For a man who had just been knocked out of Wimbledon, Kevin Anderson was taking it well.
A year ago, he had the fortnight of his life, reaching his first Wimbledon final and the second major final of his career. That he took a pasting from Novak Djokovic when he got there did not matter so much – he was fit and healthy and that meant he could be a threat to anyone.
But a year on and Anderson is making his way back from yet another injury. This time it is his elbow that has been the issue, and his trip to SW19 was only his second event since the doctors gave him the all- clear. But his time in Wimbledon was cut short by Guido Pella from Argentina, who dispatched him in a little over two and a half hours 6-4, 6-3, 7-6.
“He made life really difficult for me, I felt,” Anderson said of the world No 26. “He moves really, really well. I felt I had a pretty hard time keeping him on defence, finishing out the points. When I was able to do that, I had the most success. Overall I didn’t feel like I played that bad of a match. I could have probably served a little bit better.”
At 6ft 8ins, Anderson’s serve is a sizeable weapon so when it misfires, the rest of his game suffers. But he is a philosophical soul and even at the age of 33, he believes in hard work and patience to solve any problem.
“That desire is always there for me,” he said. “I’ve never felt a day where I’ve wanted to stop playing or anything. It’s always been frustrating when I haven’t been able to be on the court. Even now with the injuries, you just want to have that confidence where you can come back and keep progressing.
“It’s always tricky coming back. It’s not smooth sailing.But definitely heading in the right direction, which is a positive for me.”
Milos Raonic has had his fair share of injuries and had he been able to stay healthier for longer, he might have been able to challenge for some of the major prizes. As it is, the tall Canadian has only reached the Wimbledon final once, having been dismantled by Andy Murray in 2016. He reached the fourth round yesterday, beating Reilly Opelka 7-6, 6-2, 6-1.
This was a case of like meeting like. Raonic, at 6ft 5ins, is a serving machine with a big forehand. Opelka stands 6ft 11ins and has a huge serve with a huge forehand. But the American, at 21 and ranked No 68, is just not as good or as experienced as Raonic yet. Once the first set was gone, the bigger of the two big men faded dramatically and was on his way home in double quick time – the third set last just 19 minutes.
Raonic said: “Obviously against players like that I have struggled historically. Like against John Isner or Ivo Karlovic; I have struggled in those kind of scenarios. So it’s about the guy who can find a way to dictate first and also can put in more returns. I tried to specifically pay attention to those things today.”
Jamie Murray’s men’s doubles hopes came to a halt as he and Neal Skupski lost their first-round match against Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek. Two sets to one up on Thursday night, the British team were forced to stop for light. Yesterday, the Croatia-Slovakia combo raced to the finish 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
“The break overnight probably helped them more than us based on the result today but they played great,” Murray said. Murray did gain some consolation from winning his first round in the mixed doubles: he and Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Joe Salisbury and Katy Dunne 7-5, 7-6.