Kevin Anderson is four years removed from his victory at the Winston-Salem Open. Now, he is among the top players in the world, having advanced to the championship match of the U.S. Open in 2017 and Wimbledon in 2018.
The Winston-Salem Open announced Monday morning that Anderson, a 33-year-old native of South Africa who lives in Florida, is one of the four wild cards for the tournament. Two other wild cards — Tomas Berdych and Denis Shapovalov — have already been announced. The tournament is scheduled for Aug. 17-24 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
“When I was in D.C. a couple weeks ago I had an opportunity to talk to (Anderson), and I really was only doing it to congratulate him and (wife) Kelsey on their upcoming first child,” Tournament Director Bill Oakes said. “So he chatted for a few minutes, and he withdrew from Washington later that day.
“And his agent texted me and said, ‘Heard you ran into Kevin. Don’t know if you knew he withdrew. Let’s chat.’”
Anderson, who won the Winston-Salem Open in 2015, is currently ranked No. 14 in the world on the ATP Tour. But he’s dealt with elbow and knee injuries this season and has played in only five tournaments this year, winning in Pune, India, in January.
“The relationships that I think are so important to the tournament aren’t necessarily built on getting the players to come. It’s more of building the relationship with the player,” Oakes said. “So I really was not talking to Kevin to ask about playing Winston. I knew we were not on his schedule.”
Anderson reached the quarterfinals of the Miami Open in March against Roger Federer. He injured his elbow during the match and lost 6-3, 6-0. He took nearly three months off and missed the entire clay court season, returning for the Fever-Tree Championships as a tune-up for Wimbledon.
He advanced to the Round of 16 in that tournament and to the third round at Wimbledon.
Anderson injured his knee during his match at Wimbledon against Guido Pella of Argentina and hasn’t played since, withdrawing from Washington, Montreal and this week’s tournament in Cincinnati.
“I trust Kevin and his team when they say it’s precautionary. He had to take time out,” Oakes said. “Kevin’s not the type of person who’s going to come back to play when he’s not ready. He stayed out of Washington and Canada because of that. I think from his standpoint, he wants to be precautionary.
“His not playing was just to be safe, but he knows he needs matches before he gets to New York (for the U.S. Open in two weeks), and I think that’s what led him wanting to come here.”
Oakes said one reason Anderson chose to come to the Winston-Salem Open is his familiarity with the tournament and the city.
“I don’t think I’m speaking for him when I say this, but his team has told me that the comfort that they have here in Winston makes it easier for them,” Oakes said. “They know what to expect. And I think that makes a big difference for him and other players as they’re getting ready for the year’s final Major.”