The 20-time Grand Slam champion arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon for his Match In Africa exhibition clash with Rafael Nadal at the Cape Town Stadium tonight, and spoke about how much he enjoyed his holidays as a youngster in South Africa. Photo: Herman Gibbs/African News Agency/ANA
The 20-time Grand Slam champion arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon for his Match In Africa exhibition clash with Rafael Nadal at the Cape Town Stadium tonight, and spoke about how much he enjoyed his holidays as a youngster in South Africa. Photo: Herman Gibbs/African News Agency/ANA

Federer would like a South African event

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Feb 7, 2020

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While Kevin Anderson lives in Florida in the US these days and seldom plays Davis Cup tennis for South Africa, it all started for him in Johannesburg.

Not only was the 2.03m Anderson born in the City of Gold, but that was also where he clinched his first ever ATP Tour title - the 2011 South African Open - where he beat India’s Somdev Devvarman, an old US collegiate rival.

That was the last time the SA Open took place, though. A lack of sponsorship is one of the main reasons for the abolition of the event, but Roger Federer is hopeful that things can change in the future.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon for his Match In Africa exhibition clash with Rafael Nadal at the Cape Town Stadium tonight, and spoke about how much he enjoyed his holidays as a youngster in South Africa.

His mother Lynette was born and bred in Johannesburg, so the country is close to his heart.

He had a memorable showdown with Anderson at Wimbledon in 2018, where the South African triumphed 13-11 in the fifth set of the quarter-final.

But one of his goals for this trip to Cape Town is to raise awareness of tennis as a sport, and when asked if the SA Open can be played again one day, Federer gave a pointer as to how it could happen.

“I also thought Lloyd Harris (another South African player) played great in Adelaide - I remember watching his semi and final. I also played him at Wimbledon last year. Of course Kevin, we’ve had some good matches - the epic battle in Wimbledon a couple of years ago where he beat me an epic one,” the Swiss star said.

“I think South Africa is always going to come up with some tennis players. They’ve got the history here, they used to have tournaments here - they keep on disappearing and keep popping back up. I really hope that South Africa could have a nice tournament moving forward.

“It’s not easy, it’s not around the corner (geographically) - everybody obviously wants the biggest and the best players to come there, like any other country.

“But maybe it doesn’t need to be the biggest tournament I just think calendars always keep on changing, and I just really hope that somebody keeps an eye open, if there is an opening to have a tournament back in South Africa again.”

But right now, Federer cannot wait to hit some balls with Nadal at the Cape Town Stadium and put on a show for a world-record 50 000 crowd.

Spanish left-hander Nadal arrived in the Mother City yesterday from Kuwait, where he opened his own academy and also beat countryman David Ferrer in an exhibition match.

“It’s nice to get together. I remember Rafa when he was younger and he was so shy, and he was looking up to me and said ‘Whatever Roger wants, I’m happy with that’,” Federer said.

“Then he grew into a much stronger character, and the rivalry grew and we were one and two and two and one the whole time. Now we see we are on the final stretch in some ways, and we see life also very differently.

“I’m very happy that he will be here in Cape Town and it’s going to be wonderful.”

@AshfakMohamed 


Cape Times

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