Eighth seed Kevin Anderson once again came back from a set down and dug deep at the Hall of Fame Open, toppling Alexander Bublik on Saturday to reach his first ATP Tour final since 2019.

The 35-year-old South African dropped the first set of his quarter-final yesterday against Jack Sock before rallying to victory. He found himself having to go the distance again in the semi-finals against top seed Bublik, who raced out of the gates by claiming the first set and leading the second by a break.

Anderson continued to fight, serving up 20 aces and winning 78 per cent (54/69) of points behind his first serve en route to a 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 victory. He will next face #NextGenATP Jenson Brooksby in his first final since his 2019 run to the title in Pune. 

“It’s the biggest match of the week, and I’ve worked a long time to be back in a final,” Anderson said. “It’s been quite some time for me [since my last final], so it means a lot. I am going to enjoy this win, and I hope to be ready for tomorrow.”

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Anderson had to put a sluggish start behind him as Bublik, the 2019 finalist in Newport, kept the ball low and went for the drop shot to great success. The Kazakh player broke twice in the first set, and kept the 6’8” South African on the move as he changed the direction of the ball with regularity.

Bublik looked set to keep cruising as he started the second set with an early break, but Anderson honed in on his opponent’s attackable second serves to get the break straight back. In the tie-break, Anderson built up a 4/0 lead and kept his nose in front to take them into a decider.

There was little to separate them in the third set, but Anderson stayed patient and waited for his opportunities. He finally got them late in the set at 5-5, as Bublik gave him some more looks at second serves and the eighth seed gladly teed off for winners. Anderson claimed the decisive break as Bublik fired two underarm serves down break point, resulting in a double fault. The two-time major finalist then served out the victory after two hours and 46 minutes.

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The former World No. 5, currently No. 113 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, grabbed a wild card into Newport knowing that a deep run could boost his chances of reaching the US Open main draw. Now, Anderson is eying a seventh tour-level title, and his first on grass courts.

“After Wimbledon I saw that I wasn’t going to be in the main draw [of the US Open], so I emailed the tournament [in Newport] and they were kind enough to give me a wild card,” he said. “I knew I had to make the semis in order to reach the main draw, that was the first step. Now I hope that tomorrow I can go one step further.”

His opponent, 20-year-old Brooksby, had a more straightforward – but by no means simpler – path to his first ATP Tour final as he defeated seventh seed Jordan Thompson in straight sets. The #NextGenATP American was down 2-5 in the second set and had to save two set points en route to a 6-3, 7-6(3) victory.

Competing in his third tour-level main draw and in his first grass-court event, No. 152-ranked Brooksby has turned heads all week long in Newport. He is now the second-youngest finalist in the event’s 45-year history, since Greg Rusedski, 19, in 1993.

“I’m very excited to be in the final tomorrow and in such a great place, but I’m just going to try to treat it like it’s every other match and go out there with the same strategy,” Brooksby said. “I’m just excited to get out here tomorrow.”

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