Johannesburg: A dream came true for 2.03-metre South African tennis `skyscraper` Kevin Anderson in his home town Sunday when he won an ATP World Tour title for the first time.
Anderson overcame a nervous start and losing the first set to wear down dogged Indian Somdev Devvarman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a rain-interrupted South African Open final at the Montecasino entertainment centre.
Success for the world number 59 ended a long wait by South Africa for an ATP triumph with the last coming in Tokyo six years ago when qualifier Wesley Moodie went all the way in the Japan Open.
Anderson, who climbed into a stand and hugged his mother after clinching victory, pocketed 76,500 dollars and 250 ranking points having atoned for a first-round exit in his last championship appearance two years ago.
"I will never forget today. To win your first ATP title in front of your own people is truly fantastic," said Anderson, who was close to tears as he received the trophy from South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula.
"The rain delay helped ease my nerves. I knew it was crucial to hold my own serve and get a crack at his. Somdev is a great player because it is tough playing South Africans here with the altitude and crowd in their favour."
Devvarman, 51 places below Anderson in the world at 110, consoled himself with 40,300 dollars and 150 points after his second final loss. He finished runner-up to Croat Marin Cilic in the 2009 Chennai Open.
"Congratulations to Kevin who has beaten me a few times now. I know the crowd were backing him, but they also applauded me and I felt at home," he said.
Although Devvarman had made a habit of defeating other South Africans at Davis Cup and tournament level, he fell to Anderson in straight sets when they last met during the 2010 US Open.
The Indian eliminated locals Raven Klaasen, Rik de Voest and Izak van der Merwe on his four-victory path to the final and broke serve in the third game before rain suspended play for more than an hour.
Anderson broke back in the sixth game only for hyper-aggressive Devvarman to immediately do likewise and he went on to take the first set with relative comfort.
The South African was more forceful in the second set which he won in 27 minutes, with an improved second service a key factor as many games were fiercely contested with the sole break coming in the sixth.
As the duel moved into the final set, a near-capacity crowd were enthralled by the best match of the seven-day tournament with little to choose between the contenders.
Anderson showed he had more in his arsenal that a jet-propelled service 1800 metres above sea level while Devvarman produced far more aces than pundits predicted.
After failing to hold serve in the fifth game, Devvarrman squandered a great chance to bounce straight back as he lost a 40-0 lead and allowed his rival to move 4-2 ahead and on his way to glory.