ATP Tour

SA out in the cold in new Davis Cup

Kevin Anderson (AP)
Kevin Anderson (AP)

Cape Town - Motivated by the huge success and interest of similar events in other sports like soccer, rugby and cricket, it is clearly an attempt by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to gain similar impetus by transforming the traditional, 118-year-old Davis Cup into a "World Cup" of tennis.

This, no doubt, is the implication of the announcement in the past week by the ITF that as from next year the Davis Cup will culminate into an intriguing 18-nation final event to be staged at a venue in Europe in December.

It will follow the innovative round of qualification fixtures in February.

Despite its degree of uncertainty regarding the success of the venture, it is still something that has got the international tennis fraternity of 200-plus nations excited about - but unfortunately, as far as South Africa is concerned, it appears something the country will be on the outside and only looking in.

Because South Africa is ranked 42nd in the Davis Cup world rankings - and 25th among Euro-Africa group nations from which six countries will be added to the 24-team qualification segment - there is seemingly no chance of securing a place in the February qualifiers, let alone for the December finals.

And yet had currently fifth world-ranked Kevin Anderson not made himself unavailable from Davis Cup competition over the past seven years - and with a world class doubles player and Raven Klaasen in harness - South Africa would at this time in all probability be sharing in the worldwide anticipation of participating in the mooted "World Cup" of tennis.

Instead, South Africa presently remains confronted by the disturbing prospect of moving in the opposite direction should defeat be suffered in the relegation encounter from Euro-Africa Group One against either Portugal or Ukraine that is scheduled for October and which would mean participating in a lowly Euro-Africa Group Two segment in 2019.

So, is there even a grain of hope of South Africa making it to next year's Davis Cup Finals? Well the ITF has stipulated they will complete the 18-team line-up with two wildcard nominations.

And unlikely as South Africa might be of becoming one of these two beneficiaries, the extreme irony exists whereby Anderson's world ranking could be a factor if he does not surrender the considerable number of points gained from reaching the US Open final last year in the event starting at Flushing Meadows next week.

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