Johannesburg – Italian-born South African Davis Cup stalwart Rik De Voest has shaded South African-born Wayne Odesnik 6-3 4-6 7-5 to progress to within one game of qualifying for the main draw of next week's United States Open.
In an ironical match-up between one player who made South Africa his home as a one-year-old, after his parents immigrated from Italy, and the Johannesburg-born Odesnik, whose parents moved to Florida, US, when he was four years old, De Voest held his nerve and served more effectively when it mattered most in a closely-fought two-hour, 20-minute battle.
Although the left-handed, 27 year-old Odesnik was currently placed 40 positions higher in the world rankings, it was the 33
year-old De Voest who proved the more composed and consistent of the two players.
De Voest next plays Germany's Peter Gojowczyk in his final qualifying match and a victory would earn him a place in the main draw of a grand slam event for the eighth time.
He had reached the second round twice before losing to Marat Safin and John Isner, respectively.
Top South African player Kevin Anderson, who is currently ranked 20th in the world and seeded 17th at Flushing Meadows, received a tricky main round draw as he attempts to better his best-career grand slam achievement of reaching the fourth round.
Anderson faced durable Daniel Brands in the first round and, although he was placed 34 positions above the 51st ranked German, in the world rankings, Brands proved his mettle with a recent ATP tournament victory over Roger Federer.
Should Anderson beat Brands he would, in all probability face the enigmatic, but at times irrepressible, former Australian Open finalist, Marcos Baghdatis, with the man from Malta capable of matching anyone in the world on his day.
Further progress for Anderson would probably mean a match-up with either the world's 10th ranked Stanislas Wawrinka or James Blake, with a last 16 game for an elusive quarterfinal berth most likely to be against his nemesis, world number five Tomas Berdych.
And emphasising the extent of the challenge ahead for Anderson, was the fact that he had lost all nine of his previous games against Berdych.
The tournament proper gets underway at Flushing Meadows, New York, on Monday, with the draw having already conjured up the prospect of a mouth-watering quarterfinal between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, two players who between them boast 29 grand slam men's singles titles. – Sapa