Cape Town - After a lengthy break going on to three months while battling a nagging elbow injury, top South African tennis player Kevin Anderson is scheduled to return to action next week in London's traditional grass-court tournament at the Queen's Club in London.
To say that the problem, commonly referred to as tennis elbow and known in medical terms as lateral epicondylitis, has frustrated Anderson this year is almost an under-statement, while casting an ominous shadow over his future career.
It has, in the meantime, resulted in him playing only three tournaments in 2019 and withdrawing from the entire ATP clay-court segment, including the French Open.
He also withdrew from the Indian Wells Masters hard-court event and the New York Open, which he won in 2018.
Under the circumstances, it is a little surprising that Anderson has still managed to maintain a No 8 world ranking after starting the year at an impressive No 6 position.
Ironically, also, 2019 started in a similar vein to 2018 for Anderson when he reached the Wimbledon singles final and enjoyed his most successful year yet, at one stage reaching a career-best No 5 world ranking.
But after winning the opening Pune Open in India at the start of this year, high hopes have taken on a nightmarish guise for Anderson, with a shock second-round defeat against burgeoning, bustling American Frances Tiafoe in the Australian Open and the inimitable Roger Federer gaining some measure of revenge for the defeat he suffered against the big-serving South African in the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a crushing 6-0, 6-4 victory in the Miami Open quarter-finals.
Further disturbing for Anderson is the fact that he has yet to beat a player ranked among the world's top 20 during 2019 and having turned 33 last month, there is no doubt he will have something to prove at Queen's - and then, as it is planned, when he goes on to play at Wimbledon with the objective of repeating the form he displayed at the Mecca of tennis last year.
But Queen's is now clearly his immediate concern, with his comeback planned to begin on a grass surface that is more accommodating to his lethal serving weapon.
However coming back after a lengthy absence through injury is invariably a dicey proposition and it is worth recalling that immediately before his Wimbledon heroics last year, Anderson lost in the first round against Argentinian Leonardo Mayer at Queen's - an opponent widely known for his preference to play on clay-courts!