Pundits who City Press spoke to agree that Association Tennis Professional (ATP) sixth-ranked Kevin Anderson has a chance to win his first grand slam this year.
“If anyone in the top six is capable of winning the Grand Slam, Kevin is,” said prominent tennis analyst Bruce Davidson.
He concedes it is going to be a tough task for him but it is “doable”.
“It will be tough for him. The only ones that can beat him are the big boys and it will depend on how they play.”
Anderson has reached two grand slam finals in the past two years.
First the US Open when he lost to 17-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal and at Wimbledon to 14-time champion Novak Djokovic.
Davidson said the 2.03m giant is probably the “in form player” behind Djokovic in the world right now.
“I think he is going to be a strong contender for the title.”
The lanky South African’s impressive run at the grand slams improved his ranking to a career high of number five.
Tennis SA chief executive officer Richard Glover concurred with Davidson: “I have seen great progress in his game.
“He started the year well in India, I don’t think [Roger] Federer and Djokovic would like to play against him early in the tournament.”
The Florida-based star has not gone past the fourth round before at Melbourne Park.
The New York Open champion lost his first match at the Australian Open last year to the UK’s Kyle Edmund who later lost in the semifinals.
“He has a good chance at the Australian Open and he has shown he can deliver at the grass courts of Wimbledon and hard courts at US Open,” Glover said.
The 32-year-old will face 41st ranked Adrian Mannarino of France in the first round.
It could be an easy win for Anderson but the tough battle comes at the quarterfinals when he faces Nadal – if they both win their opening matches.
Then, if he makes the semifinals, he could again face Federer.
Former TSA president Bongani “Wire” Zondi agreed that Anderson now stands a better chance of winning a grand slam than before.
“To be honest, he is doing very well,” he said.
“Unlike before when he had injuries now he has the potential to win a grand slam.
“He can even surprise everyone at the Australian Open.
“The two grand slam finals gave him great experience and the first one could be his provided luck is on his side.”
Local coach Oupa Nthuping said he was proud to see him do well.
“As a Dunlop brand ambassador, Kevin’s rackets sponsor, I am proud to see him rise up and his chances of winning a grand slam are high.
“His discipline on and off the court has made him a player to watch.”
After losing in the final of the Indian Maharashtra Open last year to Gilles Simon of France, the Johannesburg-born started this year with a bang beating Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 to clinch his sixth career title in Pune last weekend.
Should Anderson win a grand slam, he will be the first South African since Johan Kriek won back-to-back Australian Opens in 1981 and 1982.