South African Kevin Anderson reached his first ATP final in two years but came up short when he was beaten by German Alexander Zverev 6-4 6-4 in the Citi Open in Washington DC on Sunday.
But for an excellent week’s tennis, the towering Anderson had the pleasure of banking R23-million and gathered more ATP points which count towards entry to big-money tournaments at the end of the year.
It has been an arduous comeback at times for Anderson, who has dealt with a myriad of injuries during the past two years since cracking the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings in October 2015.
Earlier in this tournament, Anderson had delivered big win after big win in his first run to a final since 2015 Winston-Salem, having saved a match point to beat rising star Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals and have beaten Jack Sock in straight sets during the semifinals.
But the 31-year-old couldn’t trouble Zverev on Sunday as the German rode early breaks in both sets to victory.
The fifth-seeded Zverev pressured Anderson’s serve throughout, seeing six break points and converting two of them.
On his serve, Zverev cruised. He never faced a break point and won 82 per cent of his service points (40/49), including 88 percent of his first-serve offerings (30/34).
“It didn’t feel like he gave me a whole lot. I thought he served very well. Outside of the two games I got broken, I was pretty happy with the way I played. But with him playing like that I couldn’t afford to give up those two serve games,” Anderson said.
The South African, who had hit 62 aces coming into Sunday’s final, didn’t have the same success on serve against Zverev.
Anderson will receive 300 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $174,265 in prize money which with a weak Rand, converts to R23 358 494.
Before this week, outdoor hard courts had been the lone surface Alexander Zverev hadn’t yet had success on during his career.
The 20-year-old Zverev has now won four titles this season – the Open Sud de France (indoor hard), the BMW Open by FWU (outdoor clay) and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Rome (outdoor clay) – and five since September (St Petersburg Open, indoor hard).
Only two men have won as many or more tour-level crowns this season: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.