Johannesburg - The tricky, arduous path into next week's main draw in the United States Open grand slam event at Flushing Meadows started for South Africa's Rik de Voest on Wednesday.
The long-time Davis Cup stalwart is the only South African in the 128-man men's singles qualifying draw.
But ironically it is a South African-born player and 11th seed in the qualifying segment, left-handed Wayne Odesnik, who stands in the way of De Voest easing his way into the lucrative main draw where even a first round defeat is worth in the region of R100 000.
His South African parents immigrated to the United States when the now, 24-year-old Wayne Odesnik was four-years-old, reaching a career-best 77th world ranking since from his Florida base and regularly holding a place among the top 100 since turning professional.
De Voest should beat Bjorn Fratangelo in his opening qualifying game, with the young United States prospect ranked 334th in the world and playing in his first grand slam event.
De Voest would then in all probability come up against Odesnik, with three qualifying wins, in all, required to gain a place in the main draw.
Apart from the financial rewards and improvements to his present 163rd world ranking, De Voest also sees a lengthy run at Flushing Meadows an ideal warm-up for South Africa's crucial Euro-Africa Davis Cup tie against Slovenia next month.
"It's a feather in one's cap to gain a place in a grand slam main draw," said De Voest.
"With all the best players in the world competing."
One of those who will find his way into the main draw with automatic qualification is South Africa's 19th world ranked Kevin Anderson, who in contrast to De Voest has made himself unavailable for Davis Cup duty, citing his tournament commitments as one of the reasons.