Kevin Anderson may not have envisaged his return to Grand Slam championship play would end at 1:30 a.m. local time in Melbourne, but that’s what happened on Wednesday morning at the Australian Open.
The big-serving South African finally completed a 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) comeback victory over Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka in three hours and 54 minutes.
The 33-year-old Anderson first recovered from 1-4 down in the fourth set and then saved one match point on serve at 4-5, 30/40 in the deciding set. He completed victory with an overhead, having gained the decisive mini-break in the final tie-break when he rushed to the net and Ivashka hit a backhand passing stroke wide.
Former World No. 4 Anderson played three matches for Team South Africa at the inaugural ATP Cup two weeks ago, since 2019 season-ending knee surgery in September. He played his last match in 2019 on 5 July against Guido Pella at Wimbledon.
Anderson will now challenge American No. 29 seed Taylor Fritz, who was a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 winner over Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in 86 minutes earlier on day two.