London, Nov 11: Kevin Anderson hit the ground running on his ATP Finals debut with a straight-sets victory over Dominic Thiem in the first match of the tournament.
Anderson did not face a solitary break point and won 91 per cent of points behind his powerful first serve in a 6-3 7-6 (12-10) win in the Group Lleyton Hewitt opener at the O2 Arena on Sunday.
Fourth seed Anderson struck 30 winners and served 13 aces in a powerful performance, claiming the only break of the first set before saving two set points in a tie-break to see off Thiem.
Thiem has failed to make it out of the round-robin stage in his two previous appearances in London and although he showed flashes of his class, the sixth seed was unable to prevent a seventh loss in nine meetings with Anderson.
Anderson stamped his authority on the match with an impressive start, putting Thiem under pressure and getting the break for a 3-1 lead when the Austrian drilled a forehand long.
The towering South African earned another break point with a superbly executed backhand stop volley and although Thiem's unforced errors were mounting, a battling hold reduced the deficit to 4-2.
Anderson saw another two break points come and go as Thiem got himself out of trouble with glorious winners, but he was a set down after crashing a forehand into the net.
Thiem was not doing himself any favours, though, making unforced errors at key moments - including a glaring miss with a wild forehand at the net - as Anderson made it 4-4 after being let off the hook.
World number eight Thiem saved three match points, but Anderson fended off a second set point with a booming ace and conjured up a majestic forehand winner on the run before sealing the victory with another ace.
STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN Anderson bt Thiem 6-3 7-6 (12-10)
WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS Anderson – 30/22 Thiem – 23/22
ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS Anderson – 13/4 Thiem – 5/3
BREAK POINTS WON Anderson – 1/7 Thiem – 0/0
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE Anderson – 61 Thiem – 58
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE Anderson – 91/57 Thiem – 80/60
TOTAL POINTS Anderson – 76 Thiem – 67