ATP Tour

Anderson's tennis elbow injury a blow for SA prospects

Kevin Anderson (AP)
Kevin Anderson (AP)

Cape Town - More often referred to as tennis elbow, the lateral epicondylitis condition, to use the medical terminology, that has caused a disturbing halt to top South African player Kevin Anderson's career, is also an untimely blow for South African tennis prospects in a wider sense.

Anderson earlier in the week announced that the lingering injury, which has curtailed his tournament appearances in 2019, would now also result in him missing out on the remaining claycourt circuit in Estoril (Portugal), Madrid, Rome and ultimately most damagingly the grand slam French Open in Paris as well.

What this means is that the big-serving Anderson will lose anything up to 1 000 ranking points over the next month and almost certainly suffer a substantial drop in his current sixth world ranking

It will also leave him with little chance of qualifying for the year-end ATP World Championships that is limited to the top eight players on the circuit during the year in which he is currently in 37th qualifying position and likely to drop further down the ladder before hopefully returning to tournament play in the grasscourt programme in June.

Last year Anderson not only qualified for  the prestigious London event at the end of the season, but he also reached the semi-finals before losing to world No 1 Novak Djokovic - proclaiming afterwards that  playing in London had been a one of the highlights of his career.

Ironically also battling to make it to the ATP Finals this year is top South African doubles player Raven Klaasen, who with New Zealander Michael Venus is placed only 17th in the "Race to London" - recalling that Anderson and Klaasen ended a lengthy drought in which South Africans were not included in both the singles and double in the same ATP Finals for two decades.

Also significantly, with Anderson and Klaasen at the helm, South Africa's prospects of participating in a major team tennis event for the first time in more than 20 years appeared bright when the ATP's inaugural World Team Cup is launched in Australia in January, but with Anderson's fitness bogey and consequent drop in ranking, in particular, now placing a question mark on qualification.

"It was not an easy decision deciding to miss out on the coming four claycourt tournaments," says Anderson, "but in consultation with my medical advisors it was felt that looking at the issue in the long term another month of recuperation was the best course in getting my elbow problem sorted out."

He turns 33 next month and while the elbow issue has cast some cloud over his future, it is clear that retirement is clearly not on Anderson's mind at all right now - particularly in view of the comment he has just made that he hopes to be a contender again for the ATP Finals in 2021 - and longer - after the event moves from London to Turin!

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