Johannesburg – Despite his present commendable career-best world ranking of 19th, Kevin Anderson will not achieve the status of a South African sports hero if he continues his boycott of the Davis Cup competition.
This was the view of SA Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager while announcing a depleted squad to face Slovenia in a crucial away tie next month. It could see South Africa's relegation from the Euro-Africa Group One segment of the 125-nation tournament.
“Kevin has his reasons for not making himself available for the Davis Cup,” said De Jager.
“I wish him well, but in order to achieve the same kind of hero status enjoyed by South Africa's top Springbok rugby players, cricketers, soccer players and golfers, who perform in major international team events, he'll have to put up his hand and make his undoubted talents available for his country.
“It goes without saying we will miss Kevin in the difficult away tie against Slovenia.”
The non-availability of Anderson has also been criticised by former South African Davis Cup stars such as Kevin Curren, Abe Segal, and Gordon Forbes.
“Anderson claims he is missing Davis Cup action in order to improve his career via tournament appearances,” said Segal.
“But playing in tournaments does not stop the world's best players like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, and Tomas Berdych from competing in the Davis Cup.
“Anderson would become a national hero if he saved South Africa from relegation and his image and career would rise sky-high, instead of him being something of a tennis pariah among local folk.”
Meanwhile, Anderson's agent Stuart Duguid said the player's stance on the matter remained the same.
“I don't think Kevin wants to repeat the reasons for his decision,” Duguid said.
“He put his case forward when withdrawing from last year's World Group play-off against Canada and the defeat this year against Poland and the situation has not changed.
“He said while not ruling himself out of contention for future Davis Cup appearances, he would decide on a tie-by-tie basis, putting forward reasons as the venue, court surface, travel involved, his physical condition, and the financial compensation offered by Tennis SA for the considerable loss as he attempts to improve his world ranking via tournament action.”
With Anderson included, South Africa would have more than a fighting chance of avoiding defeat against Slovenia and eliminating any chance of a humbling drop to the Euro-Africa Group Two segment of the Davis Cup.
Defeat against the Slovenians would mean South Africa face an even tougher away tie against a Russian line-up which could include players of the calibre of Mikhail Youzhny (27th in the world), Nikolay Davedenko (42nd), and four others in the top 100, to avoid the humbling relegation drop. – Sapa