SA’s Kevin Anderson suffers first round loss at Italian Open

South Africa's Kevin Anderson hits a return against Belarus's Ilya Ivashka during their men's singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: South Africa’s Kevin Anderson during a past match.(Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

South African Kevin Anderson was eliminated from the Italian Open in the first round after suffering a straight sets defeat to Ugo Humbert.

Anderson, the pre-match favourite, lost to the Frenchman 3-6, 6-7 in just over an hour and 40 minutes.

It was Anderson’s second straight first round exit from a tournament after he also lost out at the same stage at the U.S. Open.

Anderson lost serve in the fourth game of the first set and the remainder of the set went with serve as Humbert converted his third set point to take it 3-6.

Anderson, again, lost serve in the opening game of the second set and then fell 2-0 down. However, he broke Humbert in the 10th game to make it 5-5 and both men held serve to push the second set into a tie-break.

Despite racing into a 2-0 lead in the tie-break, Anderson was pegged back as Humbert recovered to make it 2-4. Both players traded blows but Humbert eventually prevailed when the two-time Grand Slam finalist lost serve and he won the second set and claimed victory.

Another South African Lloyd Harris missed out on the event after he lost out to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita in the qualifying rounds.

Both players, particularly Anderson, are expected to make decisions on how the will prepare for the final major of the year.

The next Grand Slam, the French Open, which was postponed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held from September 27.

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