Thu, 18 Jul 2019

Cape Town - What a difference a year can make is an old maxim - and, in the case of South Africa's 2018 Wimbledon finalists, Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen, the build-ups as the duo prepare for next week's mecca Grand Slam tournament in London could hardly be more contrasting and with diverse recent fortunes to back them up.

Anderson, it will be recalled, achieved probably his best-ever and most notable tournament results at Wimbledon last year, not only gaining an unthinkable, come-from-behind, five-set quarter-final singles victory over 20-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, playing in a 26-24 final set semi-final before beating John Isner and ultimately going down to current world number one Novak Djokovic in the final.

But after finishing 2018 with a year-end career high of sixth in the world and starting 2019 with an encouraging title success in India's Pune Open, the period leading up to Wimbledon has emerged as something of an ongoing nightmare for the 33-year-old, big-serving Anderson as a lingering elbow injury has limited his tournament appearances with results in the process seemingly going from bad to worse.

A second round defeat in the Australian Open against burgeoning, bustling United States prospect Frances Tiafoe was followed by a crushing 6-0, 6-4 loss for Anderson as Federer gained a measure of revenge for his Wimbledon loss in the Miami Open - and then after the disturbing absence from the ATP's entire clay court segment in a bid to overcome his elbow bogey, the belated return for the South African at Queens last week culminated only in a second round loss against France's canny, but 30-placed, lower-ranked Gilles Simon.

So it is certainly with some trepidation that Anderson will seek to repeat a measure of Wimbledon glory and place his wavering career back on course next week.

Not so the evergreen, 36-year-old Klaasen, who in partnership with his last year's finalist partner, New Zealander Michael Venus, could not be approaching Wimbledon in a more soothing and confident frame of mind after the pair have seemingly struck their most dominant form at the most appropriate moment.

Finalists in the Rome Masters tournament two weeks ago, Klaasen and Venus went a step better at Halle last week and won an absorbing, tantalising final 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 against Poland's Lukasz and Brazil's Marcelo Melo.

In the process, Klaasen has equalled his career-best world doubles ranking of ninth and seemingly well-positioned to secure a degree of further success at Wimbledon along with Venus.

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