Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson announced his retirement from professional tennis on Tuesday at age 35. The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) South African was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open in 2017 — No. 32 at the time, Anderson was the lowest-ranked finalist in tournament history — and to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2018.
Anderson won seven ATP Tour singles titles, most recently at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, last July. All of his trophies came on the speedier surfaces of grass or hard courts, which helped add oomph to his booming serves. "Tennis carried me far beyond my roots in Johannesburg, South Africa, and truly gave me the world," Anderson wrote on Twitter in posts about what he called a "difficult decision to retire."
"I've experienced so many different challenges and emotions; this sport can be exhilarating and at the same time lonely," he said. Anderson played college tennis at Illinois, where he won the 2006 NCAA men's doubles championship and was an All-American for three seasons. In 2007, he helped Illinois to a runner-up finish as a team. After turning pro that year, Anderson claimed his first tour-level title at home in Johannesburg in 2011.
Anderson reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2018, after his run to the title match at the All England Club. That included a 13-11 fifth-set victory over 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals after facing a match point, and a 26-24 fifth-set victory over John Isner in the semifinals, before the loss to 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic. That match against Isner served as the tipping point for the sport's four major tournaments to discuss adding tiebreakers for the final set — and all four announced this year they now will play tiebreakers at 6-all in the deciding set (third for women, fifth for men) from now on.
Anderson, who will turn 36 on May 18, is 1-5 in 2022 and is ranked 107th this week. Elbow injuries limited him to 15 matches in 2019. He has not competed since a three-set loss in his opening main-draw match at the Miami Open against Juan Manuel Cerundolo in March. Anderson has been an advocate for reducing plastic use on the tennis tours and his charitable efforts earned him the 2019 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award.