ATP Tour

Pune defeat costs Anderson golden top 10 chance

Kevin Anderson (AP)
Kevin Anderson (AP)
Cape Town - The beckoning prospect of regaining an elite world top 10 ranking - he held 10th place briefly for a week two years ago - must have burned brightly in the bosom of top South African tennis player Kevin Anderson after reaching the final of the ATP Tour's tournament in Pune, India over the weekend.

After all, the pre-final bookmakers' odds against elegant, but struggling-to-find-form Gilles Simon seemed to favour the 6-foot-8 South African big server, who has started the New Year with a succession of pleasing results after finishing 2017 with a 14th world ranking - this against the Frenchman's declining 89th position.

What is more, Anderson had beaten Simon in all their three previous matches and was armed with the additional incentive of knowing that a victory against Simon would elevate him to 10th spot in the rankings.

Instead, the form book was turned upside down, with Simon finding the elusive form that had once made him the world's number six player to frustrate Anderson with a mixture of guile, stonewalling defence and counter-attacking strokes that earned him a 7-6 (7/4), 6-2  success.

And, no doubt, Simon's victory earlier in the tournament against top-seeded world number six Marin Cilic  as a warning the Frenchman had shed his 2017 blues.

The net outcome is that Simon's comeback campaign, when the ATP releases the latest places on Monday, will move him back into the 60s, while Anderson will earn a still notable 11th place - but one short of the elusive 10th position barrier.

And with Anderson not participating in a tournament in the coming week in preparation for the Australian Open and Jean-Martin del Potro and Sam Querrey positioned to pick up points in the Auckland Open, Anderson could find himself in 12th or 13th place in the world rankings at the start of the much-anticipated Melbourne grand slam extravaganza.

Anderson, nonetheless, is certain of gaining a top 16 seeding in the Australian Open and a good performance in Melbourne will present  the South African No 1 with another inviting opportunity of gaining a top 10 place.

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