Mixed fortunes in Paris for SA tennis stars

Kevin Anderson (AP)
Kevin Anderson (AP)

Cape Town - Great expectations were ultimately tinged in disappointment for the South African contingent at an equally topsy-turvy French Open at Roland Garros.

After earlier accounting for enigmatic Australian Nick Kyrgios and Johannesburg-born Briton Kyle Edmund in earlier rounds, top South African Kevin Anderson bowed out in the fourth round in the most deflating manner possible - a 6-3, 3-0 retirement loss against Croatian Marin Cilic as a result of what was termed a hamstring strain.

No doubt, Anderson was performing with less of the authority he had shown against Kyrgios and Edmund against the stealthy, but deceptively big-hitting Cilic.

But by his own admission, Anderson was cutting his losses by terminating his match against Cilic prematurely in order to attempt a 100 percent recovery for the forthcoming grass-court season that culminates with the blue riband Wimbledon event - which he prefers, in any case, to the Paris clay.

Bluntly, Anderson had little or no chance of beating Cilic when their match came to a sudden conclusion, thereby extending his record against the Croat to six losses against a single victory.

Cilic, for his part, lost his next encounter against 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka at the quarter-final stage by a comprehensive 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 margin to provide further food for thought.

But, despite all this, the lanky Anderson can claim a good slice of satisfaction from the Roland Garros tournament, with his world ranking now due to make a 19-position improvement next week from 56th to 37th after 18 months blighted by a succession of injuries and uncertain form for the player whose ranking vacillated from 10th to 70th at different times.

There was, however, no redeeming features at Roland Garros for world 13th-ranked doubles player Raven Klaasen, who in partnership with regular American partner, Rajeev Ram, bowed out in the second round of the men's doubles against a scratch pairing of Roman Jebavy and Jiri Vesely after being seeded eighth and justifiably looking forward to a lengthy run in the tournament.

Furthermore the prospect of the Klaasen-Ram combination qualifying for the eight-team year-end World ATP Finals was endangered  through the loss in Paris resulting in a descent to the final eighth place in the pecking order.
 
In the mixed doubles, which has now become a relatively low key event at Grand Slam tournaments, Klaasen's cup of woe ran over as a result of a first-round loss.

And in the boys singles, the promising Bertus Kruger progressed from the qualifying rounds before suffering a second-round setback to round off South Africans' turn-off at the French Open.

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