A backhand slice, struck low over the net early in the third set, helped last year’s finalist Kevin Anderson to wrestle the momentum away from Janko Tipsarevic on Wednesday for a place in the third round at The Championships.
The fourth-seeded South African rarely settled through two sets against the former World No. 8, but recovered to complete a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 victory in just under three hours on No. 2 Court. It was his 20th victory at the All England Club, Wimbledon.
Tipsarevic clinched the second set tie-break when Anderson hit a backhand return into the net. But when the Serbian served at 1-2, Ad Out, in the third set, Anderson produced a slice backhand that skidded low and forced Tipsarevic to adjust close to the net.
It was the stroke that broke the camel’s back and Anderson went on to win a further five consecutive games. By the end of the third set, Tipsarevic — who, until the start of the year, had been sidelined for 16 months due to two hamstring surgeries — received on-court treatment.
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Anderson, who has overcome his own injury problems — specifically, a right elbow injury that has limited him to three tournaments in the first five months of 2019 — saved the lone break point he faced in his first service game and won 65 of 74 first-service points. He struck his 24th ace — a 137 miles per hour first delivery — on his second match point.
"It's definitely getting better," Anderson said of his elbow. "I think it's a process, but having played four sets today and feeling really good and a match a few days ago, that's a very positive sign for me today.
"I thought I served well throughout, not getting broken. I did a great job on my serve games. Of course I'm really pleased with how my body held up. That's the most important thing right now for me. Obviously the more I can keep playing matches, the better it will be."
Anderson will now play Argentine No. 26 seed Guido Pella, who hit 42 winners in a 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over Andreas Seppi of Italy in three hours and 37 minutes.
Last year, Anderson lost to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, in his second Grand Slam championship final (also 2017 US Open). He now has a 11-3 record this season, which includes his fourth ATP Tour title at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune (d. Karlovic).
Elsewhere, Spain’s Fernando Verdasco recovered from two-sets-to-love down for the sixth time in his career by edging British No. 30 seed Kyle Edmund 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and 43 minutes on Centre Court.
“It was a hard battle for me, but I’ve gone through coming back from two-sets-to-love,” said Verdasco. “That, obviously, makes things even harder. I was just trying to stay in the match no matter what the score was and keep fighting, keep trying.”
Verdasco now plays Italian Thomas Fabbiano, seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas’ first-round conqueror, who stared down 38 aces from Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in a 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4 victory over three hours and seven minutes. Karlovic saved one set point at 5/6 in the second set tie-break.