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By Andrew Jones | Sunday, February 18, 2018

Kevin Anderson

Top-seeded Kevin Anderson edged second-seeded Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) to win the inaugural New York Open title.

Photo credit: New York Open Facebook

It’s truly hard to separate Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson.

They almost are identical in age, height, playing style and their current rankings, as both players came into the inaugural New York Open final 11th and 12th in the ATP World Tour rankings.

Watch: Federer Flies to 97th Career Title

About the only thing that separated them on Sunday afternoon was a deciding set tiebreak that wasn’t close.

The South African secured a well deserved fourth title of his career, with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) victory over Querrey to become the first winner at the Nassau Coliseum venue.

With the victory over Querrey, Anderson made his long awaited return to the Top 10 rankings after reaching the milestone back for just one week in October 2015. And considering every win of his this week was a three set nail-biting affair that could have went either way, it is a reward fully deserved.

“It feels really, really special,” Anderson said. “It feels great to come through and get today’s win. It gives me a lot of confidence for the year, I feel like I’m playing some really good tennis. I’m looking forward to what the season brings. Feels like I got good goals, as I have been saying it all starts with the process of what I’ve been doing day in and day out. I felt I did a terrific job of that this week and hopefully I will be able to continue with things.”

After starting the final superbly, as he did against Kei Nishikori in the semifinals, with a quick 2-0 lead Anderson suddenly didn’t resemble the player who would be tournament champion at the end of the day. Querrey recovered from that early slip up his first service game to gain control of the opening frame with sharper serving and baseline hitting.

As the American wrapped up the first set with an easy hold 6-4, it seemed the difficult turnaround adjustment of a evening semifinal to an afternoon title match for Anderson would be one more hurdle too much for him to overcome this week. Add in the Illinois alum's request to see the trainer before the second set with a slightly ailing elbow, and it seemed Querrey was destined for the title.

But the 2017 US Open finalist displayed once again the mental strength that won him the title this week and garner him a career high ranking of No.9 come Monday. Out of nowhere, Querrey’s form dipped and Anderson located his top level to take the first five games of the second set. When the Californian amounted a late comeback to take three straight games, Anderson closed the door to hold and even the match at a set all.

Both players would bring their best form in the final set on serve, as neither player faced break point in the decider. The separation finally came in the tiebreak, as an erratic Querrey, combined with a solid Anderson, lead to the latter taking the opening six points in deciding 13th game. After a quality forehand for Querrey to save one match point, Anderson would close it out in style with a terrific crosscourt forehand to celebrate a fantastic week of fortitude and fitness from him.

Despite the loss, Querrey was in a solid mood before preparing for Delray Beach next week.

“He just broke me the second game of the second set there,” Querrey said. “He picked him game up. He started making a few more first serves. I feel like he was hitting the ball a little bigger, making a few more. I kind of got a little back at the end of the set there, but it was just too little too late.”

Querrey was the third American player Anderson overcame this week, as he weathered massive challenges from talented NextGen stars Ernesto Escobedo and Frances Tiafoe before edging out Nishikori on Saturday. It was again a testament to his mental strength for him to take the crown in Long Island.

“I’ve been able to come through close matches,” Anderson said. “Definitely one of the goals and challenges of this year was having more success in the finals, being able to play my game at the very last stages of the tournament. Today was a step in the right direction for me. Today was tough. I really had to reset as much as I could.

I felt I played a great second set, I obviously got off to a good start. And in the third set, it was anybody’s game. I played one of the better tiebreaks and it’s always a good feeling if you can change ends being 6-0 up.”

Andrew Jones is a Brooklyn-based tennis writer covering the New York Open for Tennis Now. Please follow Andrew on Twitter.


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