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Top SA player shuns SA Open

Published Dec 21, 2009


Entries for February's R25-million South African Open at the Montecasino Entertainment Resort close on Tuesday morning - but certain to emerge as a glaring omission from the list is top South African player Kevin Anderson.

Instead, the 6feet 6inch Anderson, who alienated himself from many South African tennis followers in a big way when he declined to make himself available for the crucial World Group Davis Cup play-off against India a couple of months ago, has entered for Challenger events of distinctly lesser stature in Hawai and Dallas during the period of the South African Open.

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"I have not spoken to Kevin for some time," said South African Tennis Association CEO and tournament director of the Montecasino event Ian Smith, "but I obviously have second-hand information at my disposal that he will not be playing here and accept that at face value."

At the time Anderson declined to play in the World Group play-off, which India won 4-1, the decision so incensed South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager that he vowed he would not include South Africa's number one in his team should South Africa have returned to the top echelon of the Davis Cup for the first time in a decade.

This situation will not now arise, but Anderson's shunning of the South African Open will further antogonise him from the local tennis mainstream and generate doubts as to whether he should be selected for the Euro-Africa Davis Cup tie against either Finland or Poland in May.

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"Imagine Andy Murray not playing at Wimbledon, Lleyton Hewitt opting out of the Australian Open or Andy Roddick electing to miss the United States Open," said one tennis official. "It's simply unthinkable. Anderson owed it to South African tennis to play at Montecasino, but he also owed it to himself to play in an event on the ATP's World Tour instead of secondary Challenger events.'

Although now ranked 162nd in the world and unlikely to have received one of the 24 automatic acceptances had he entered the South African Open, the country's number one player was in line for one of the four wild card places which will be handed out to South Africans - although it was mooted by some his attitude towards the Davis Cup should preclude him from this - as well as having the option to compete for one of the four qualifying positions.

Other top South Africans like Rik De Voest, Izak van der Merwe and Raven Klaasen have entered the Montecasino tournament and are in line for wild card places, while one place will be reserved for the winner of the South African Closed Championships, which will be played at the Wanderers a week before the South African Open.

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Smith said Sata were hopeful of one or two top players submitting late entries, but at this juncture the top drawcards are the world's 13th-ranked Frenchman Gael Monfils and Spain's 17th-ranked David Ferrer. - Sapa

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