There may have been a little taping on his right knee and multiple shirt and shoe changes in the hot conditions, but it mattered little to Kevin Anderson on Saturday afternoon. The former World No. 5, playing at the Western & Southern Open for the 10th time, got the win in an empty stadium after almost three hours of toil.

For all of the South African’s injury woes over the past four years, including right knee surgeries in September 2019 and February 2020, Anderson has never given in and at the age of 34 is on the comeback trail once more.

His 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 first-round victory over Kyle Edmund at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York was his first match win at an ATP Masters 1000 tournament since March 2019, when he lost to Roger Federer in the Miami Open presented by Itau quarter-finals.

Anderson first recovered from 3-5 down in the first set, then again from a 1-3 deficit in the tie-break to earn six straight points and keep Edmund on the back foot. Anderson bounced back after handing Edmund the break at 2-2 in the second set by hanging tough in the decider — twice saving break points at 2-2 and 3-3. Once Edmund mis-timed a forehand long in the eighth game, Anderson didn’t look back for his fourth match win of 2020. He hit 20 aces among his 38 winners.

The reward is a fourth ATP Head2Head meeting against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the fourth seed. The Western & Southern Open, traditionally played in Cincinnati, is being held behind closed doors at the venue of the upcoming US Open this year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Matches feature no line judges and players have to pick up their own towels.

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