SAA Tennis Open has an attractive field

2008-02-06 00:00

THE SAA Tennis Open, which takes place in East London next week, is gearing up to be an exciting tournament.

World number 22 Ivan Ljubicic is a major reason why. A wild card entrant, 28-year-old Croatian Ljubicic has amped up the attractiveness of the tournament with his presence and he is sure to pull in the crowds at the splendidly refurbished Selborne Park Stadium.

The other wild cards are South Africans Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Izak van der Merwe. Roelofse won the Braaiketts KZN Open at Kershaw Park last month when he beat Pietermaritzburg’s Gareth Greenwood in the final.

The other SA players in the draw are direct acceptances world number 118 Rik de Voest, Wimbledon doubles winner Wesley Moodie (164) and Kevin Anderson (208). Apart from Ljubicic, among the other overseas entrants are world number 51 Thomas Johansson, fellow Swede Jonas Bjorkman (67) and Austria’s Stefan Koubek (67).

Other players in the world top 200 set to strut their stuff in East London are Portugal’s Frederico Gil (140), Australia’s Joseph Sirianni (146), Italian Stefano Galvani (177), France’s Jeremy Chardy (192) and German Bjorn Phau (194), but the spotlight will be on Ljubicic. Once ranked third in the world, the tall, strongly built Ljubicic has a powerful serve and will be hard to beat.

This SA Airways-sponsored event has been boosted further by a cash injection from Mercedes Benz SA, which has its manufacturing division in East London.

The first round begins this Monday with the semi-finals next Saturday and the finals on Sunday week. The semi-finals and final are to be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Running alongside the SAA Tennis Open will be the SA Club Championships, with the Kershaw Park-based Braaiketts men’s team representing KZN.

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