ATP Tour

Hard toil for SA tennis trio since ATP Tour resumption

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Lloyd Harris. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Lloyd Harris. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
  • South Africa's three most prominent tennis players have found the going tough since the ATP Tour's resumption.
  • Lloyd Harris, Kevin Anderson and doubles ace Raven Klaasen have failed to progress past the second round at three events.
  • Anderson lost in the first round of the Italian Open, while Harris failed to qualify.

With the distinctive French Open clay-court Grand Slam less than two week away, the foreboding recent results of top South African tennis players Kevin Anderson, Lloyd Harris and Raven Klaasen, provide nought for comfort.

In the three major events since the resumption of tournaments following on the lengthy break due to the coronavirus pandemic, the foremost South African tennis trio have failed to progress in their specialised singles and doubles categories beyond the second round - and more often than not beyond the first round - in the successive Western and Southern Open, the US Open Grand Slam and now the ongoing Italian Open to a single third round.

More specifically in eight such events, the South African participation has progressed no further than twice to a second round, five times biting the dust in the first round - and, in the case of Harris in the current Italian Open in Rome, failing to qualify for the first round proper of the singles, with the gangling 23-year-old prospect going down 6-4, 6-2 to Japan's 91st-ranked Yuichi Sugita in the opening qualifying stanza.

Admittedly, the draws in the case of the 34-year-old Anderson, still seemingly battling after lengthy breaks through injury to find the verve that earned him a place in US Open and Wimbledon finals and a fifth world ranking, and Harris, have not been unduly kind to the South African duo, with Anderson showing encouraging form while taking US Open finalist, Alexander Zverev, to four tough sets before going down in the first round of the Flushing Meadows tournament.

Harris also was not out of place in extending world top tenner David Goffin to four sets in the opening round of the US Open.

But instead of making further progress in Rome this week, Anderson went down 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) to canny 42nd ranked Frenchman, Ugo Humbert, in the first round and Harris failed to make it that far on the clay court surface that is not favoured by any of the South Africans.

And, of course, the French Open at Roland Garros will also be played on the renowned clay - and with Harris now ranked 95th and Anderson 118th, the sequence of tough draws could well continue.

This brings one to evergreen doubles specialist, Klaasen, for long ranked among the top 10 doubles players in the world, but presently seeming still to find a telling accord with his new partner, Austria's Olivier Marach.

The duo were seeded in both the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, but suffered shock defeats in the second and first rounds of these events respectively.

The South African-Austrian pairing are seeded seventh in Rome and will face unseeded Australians Luke Saville and Max Purcell in the first round.

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