Source: Kevin Anderson via Facebook.

The enduring presence of Roger Federer has undeniably made the life of would-be Grand Slam winners much more problematic. The Swiss star's triumph at Wimbledon in 2012 may not have seemed at the time like a fitting farewell, but a subsequent decline and fitness issues made it seem like it would be the appropriate end to an incredible career. Instead, Federer has defied expectations by claiming half of the Grand Slams in 2017 and the Australian Open this year. This resurgence makes Federer an inevitable favourite in any tournament in which he participates, but it also means that any player who has demonstrated that they can beat him on the biggest stage has the capability to make significant impressions on a Grand Slam.

Kevin Anderson meets that criteria; his quarter-final comeback this year at Wimbledon of all places stunned an audience who thought Federer was on his way to a routine victory, with a scoreline of 2-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 13-11 a testament to Anderson's battling qualities. That match may have been a marathon, but it was made to look like a sprint by Anderson's semi-final against fellow ace machine John Isner. The final score of 7-6 6-7 6-7 6-4 26-24 is not only exhausting to read, but it unsurprisingly left the victor, Anderson, feeling the effects when defeated in the final against Novak Djokovic.

A player who has made two of the last four Grand Slam finals would be expected to be among the favourites for the US Open, considering that last year's tournament at Flushing Meadows delivered one of those two finals. Yet, in terms of US Open betting with William Hill, Anderson can be found at odds of 33/1 to win the tournament. This places him behind players like Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios who are yet to make a real impact on a Grand Slam. Going under the radar may benefit Anderson, with the South African able to focus on his own game rather than the circus that surrounds some of the more hyped players on the ATP tour.

Anderson's 6-3 6-3 6-4 defeat in the final to Rafael Nadal saw the Slam final debutant out of his depth against the Spaniard's ruthlessness and skill. That experience emboldened Anderson, with the 32-year-old declaring his intentions to come back and go one step further. His career has made all the right moves in the subsequent year, with Anderson storming to a career-best ranking of five propelled by his run at Wimbledon. With his first Slam final an acclimatising experience and his second on the back of two epic matches, if Anderson can make a third final at this year 's US Open, then he will not be overwhelmed by the occasion. It is incredibly unlikely that he will have to play two gruelling matches consecutively like he did at Wimbledon.

Feeling below your best against a player like Djokovic is a recipe for disaster, with the Serbian star an expert at exposing opponents' weaknesses. Losing the first two sets by a margin of 6-2 ensured the outcome was never really in doubt. Yet, Anderson can take heart from a third set in which he held five points but ultimately lost in the tie-break. If Anderson can give Djokovic a few headaches when highly fatigued and facing a legendary opponent back to his best, then there is no reason that Anderson can't make the jump from contender to champion at this year's US Open.

 

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