Kevin Anderson, the top seed, returns to No. 2 Sam...

Kevin Anderson, the top seed, returns to No. 2 Sam Querrey on the way to Anderson's 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) victory in the New York Open final on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

So the inaugural New York Open tennis tournament has its inaugural champion.

Kevin Anderson, the South African who lost in the U.S. Open final to Rafael Nadal last September, made his return to New York a winning one. He defeated American Sam Querrey, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1), at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.

“Tennis is a tough sport. You can play a lot of tennis, lot of matches and if you don’t win that finals match, it can be a pretty tough week,” said Anderson, who won his fourth career title and will ascend to No. 9 in the world, a career high. “One of my goals this year was to be more successful in the final stage. I fell a little short in India earlier this year. It feels great to come through. Gives me a lot of confidence for the year.”

“The way he plays, he doesn’t let you play that much because he goes for so much,” Querrey said. “You don’t get that comfortable out there. It could have gone either way.”

As the No 1 seed, Anderson had a longer, bumpier road to the final than Querrey, who was the second seed. Both had byes in the first round, but this was Anderson’s fourth consecutive three-setter. He took out American qualifier Ernesto Escobedo in the first round, American bright light Frances Tiafoe in the second round, and in the semifinals he defeated the always dangerous Kei Nishikori, who was returning to a tour level event for the first time since August after recovering from a wrist injury.

Anderson and Querrey exchanged breaks early in the first set, then Querrey got a break in the seventh game and served it out. Anderson took advantage of some so-so serving by Querrey in the second set, jumping out to a 5-0 lead with two breaks of serve. Querrey managed to get one break back, but the set fell to Anderson.

The third set was fairly even, with Querrey needing to fight off two break points in the fifth game and Anderson fighting off a break point in the sixth.

The tiebreak was totally lopsided. Anderson ran off to a 6-0 lead with Querrey failing to hold any of his first three serves. When he lost the third one to give Anderson a 5-0 lead, Querrey let his racket know about it, smashing it and needing a new one. He won a single point with it as Anderson closed out the 2-hour, 13-minute win with a fine crosscourt forehand winner.

The first New York Open winner definitely thinks the tournament has a winning combination.

“Now that we have the ATP back in New York, that’s very special,” Anderson said. “The first time you put on an event, it can be quite challenging. I must say things went very smoothly. From a players’ standpoint, it didn’t feel like a first event at all. I definitely look forward to coming back next year.”

Another title for Max. Max Mirnyi keeps rolling along in doubles. Partnering with Philipp Oswald, the 40-year-old Mirnyi won his 51st career title Sunday. The pair defeated Wesley Koolhof and Artem Sitak, 6-4, 4-6, 10-6. It was Mirnyi’s 100th career final, 96 doubles (51-45) and four singles (1-3).

Mirnyi’s sole singles title was 15 years ago this week at Rotterdam, where on Sunday Roger Federer won the title. Mirnyi beat the 23-year-old Federer on the way to the title. He also played doubles with Federer.

Mirnyi came to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, as a 13-year-old emigre from Belarus, and this win was especially sweet.

“Very exciting for me to be back to New York, I have a lot of history in New York,” Mirnyi said. “Being on Long Island, I’m not very familiar with the area, but I have a lot of friends. The feeling of waking up and getting a New York bagel brings back so many great memories for me.”

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