Cape Town – Kevin Anderson has hinted that nerves, rather than fatigue, got the better of him at the start of his Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
The South African lost the first two sets 6-2, 6-2 but regained his form in the third set.
He had five set points on the Djokovic serve but failed to capitalise, with the Serbian eventually clinching the set and match 7-6 (7/3).
Anderson entered Sunday’s final having played more than 21 hours of tennis, including a six-hour, 36-minute semi-final win over American John Isner.
“It was a tough start for me. But I was definitely quite nervous starting out the match. (I) didn’t play great tennis in the beginning,” Anderson said in his post-match press conference.
“You know, you always have high hopes. Going into the match, I was hoping to draw on some previous experiences, playing at the US Open in the finals, obviously playing (Roger) Federer a couple days ago.”
Anderson admitted that he was feeling the effects of his previous matches but felt he could have continued had he managed to extend the contest.
“I didn’t really find my form the way I wanted to. Of course, my body didn’t feel great. I mean, I don’t think you’re going to expect it to feel great this deep into a tournament when you’ve played so much tennis,” he added.
“I tried my best to keep at it. (I) definitely felt much better in the third set. I thought I had quite a few opportunities to win that third set, especially a couple of the points where Novak hit a couple balls, I thought they were actually going out, managed to land right on the line.
“Obviously would have loved to have gone to a fourth set. I don’t know how I would have felt as the match progressed. Novak is very tough to match physically. I think all in all, my body actually handled it pretty well.”
Anderson added that the recovery process from Friday’s marathon – the longest semi-final in Wimbledon history – was gruelling.
“Honestly, Saturday was pretty tough. There was a lot of thoughts going through my mind of, ‘Am I going to be ready to play another three-out-of-five-set match on Sunday against somebody like Novak’.
“Getting here to the courts, seeing the doctors, seeing the podiatrist for my feet. Having a very light hit, I probably only hit for 10 or 15 minutes… you go through certain exercises that I do… when things aren’t feeling the way they should, you always have a little bit of doubt.
“I barely slept on Friday night. Actually last night (Saturday) I was able to get in a pretty good night. Waking up today (Sunday), I actually felt okay, insomuch that, I don’t think the match was entirely just because I wasn’t feeling the freshest. It was a bit more of being able to play the kind of tennis I needed to at this stage.”