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Guitar fan Kevin Anderson tuning up for a shock encore

KEVIN Anderson is only just learning to play the guitar, but he plans to hit all the right notes on Centre Court tomorrow.

There will be little pressure on Kevin Anderson when he plays Andy Murray  Photograph: Getty
There will be little pressure on Kevin Anderson when he plays Andy Murray Photograph: Getty

The 6ft 8in South African, who takes on Andy Murray in the Wimbledon fourth round, has inflicted plenty of damage on his strings over the years with his huge serving and brutal hitting from the back of the court, but yesterday he revealed a previously hidden aspiration to make beautiful music.

"I've actually just started learning guitar, and that's taken over my reading habit," said Anderson.

"I've got a book about the guitar, I can't remember what the title is, but right now all my spare time is basically just learning how to play better."

The Johannesburg native has sent down 63 aces this week, balanced by only 11 double faults, as he has equalled his furthest progress at any Grand Slam, as well as going further than any South African since Wayne Ferreira 14 years ago.

The South African and the Scot have shared out their two competitive career meetings, Anderson winning comfortably in Canada in 2011, to avenge a Murray win on the Rod Laver arena at the 2010 Australian Open.

But that is only part of the story. The 28-year-old, who now lives in Delray Beach, Florida, with his wife Kelsey, is an occasional practice partner of the Scot's, and even met up with Ivan Lendl for an ad hoc hitting session a couple of months back. While the No 20 seed hopes to bring the defending champion crashing down to earth, hearing Murray's emotional reception as defending champion on day one of the tournament struck a chord.

"It was great to see," Anderson said. "I got into the locker room and the TV wasn't on so I asked the guys to put it on.

"I think it's great to see the defending champ go out for the first time. It's an amazing tradition and something very special.

"I have played Andy in Melbourne on Laver, but that's the only main Centre Court of the slams that I've been on. But there will be more pressure on him than there is on me, so hopefully I can relax a little bit more."

A fellow South African native who lives in Florida is Cliff Drysdale, the ESPN pundit. The respected coach, twice a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in the 1960s, acknowledged the scale of the moment for South African tennis, but admitted his money was still on Murray.

"I don't think Kevin can do it," said Drysdale. "He has got a really good game and has worked really hard, particularly for the last two or three years.

"He has matured as a player and has a huge serve, but I would put him on the same level as the other really big servers, like John Isner and Jerzy Janowicz, in that he doesn't really move well enough.

"Andy, on the other hand, moves too well - he is going to get too many balls back for Kevin to win the match.

"His run at Wimbledon is good news for South African tennis, that is for sure."

Drysdale added: "All the really tall servers can be dangerous in a one-off match over five sets, but there are just too many guys like Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray out there for him to win a Slam.

"The Grigor Dimitrovs and guys of that calibre are ahead of him because they have a more rounded game.

"I would call it 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 - three sets, but three close sets. That is what I think."

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