Moments after qualifying for his first Grand Slam final, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson raced to hug his friends and family in the players’ box, standing on a large flower plot to reach them.
His joy and enthusiasm were evident after his impressive 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in a U.S. Open semi-final Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I really don’t know what to say right now,” Anderson said.
“I don’t know if the team hug is the right thing to do for the finals but I felt it was the appropriate thing to do.”
Achieving his career dream, 32nd-ranked Anderson booked a Sunday final date against world number one Rafael Nadal, who beat Argentina’s 24th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro early on Saturday morning (S.A. time).
“It has been a long road. This means the world to me,” Anderson said.
“This is why we work so hard. It was an unbelievably tough match for me.
“I was nervous at the start. I’m sure Pablo was as well. I really had to dig deep there.
“I’m over the moon. I’m happy to have another shot.”
Anderson, 31, admitted that he was stunned to have risen from 80th in the rankings in January when he appeared destined for hip surgery and a lost season in recovery.
“It was very difficult at the end of last year. I was told I probably needed surgery on my hip,” Anderson said.
“Here I am just nine months later after thinking I might have to undergo a year’s worth of hip surgery recovery so this means the world to me.”
That was clear when he made his move to the flower pot and went into the stands to hug his crew, notably brother Greg, who helped nurture Anderson’s Grand Slam dream since childhood.
“He has been with me since I started the game at 5 years old,” Anderson said.
“We’ve played so many matches.”