ATP Tour

SA tennis duo set sights on ATP Finals

Kevin Anderson (AP)
Kevin Anderson (AP)
Cape Town - It might not be in the "over the moon" category, but this has been a year of encouraging signs of improved attitudes and notable achievements for South African tennis.

In the first instance the appointment of industrious Richard Glover as TSA CEO has helped eliminate the suspicion that the once-thriving South African tennis set-up has become becalmed in a state of inactivity and indifference.

The promotion from the depths of what is effectively the third division of the Davis Cup to the Euro-Africa Group One in 2018 was another step in the right direction and Kevin Anderson's unexpected qualification for the US Open final aroused enthusiasm for a South African tennis player unequalled here since the Wayne Ferreira era 15 years ago - forgetting momentarily via a state of tennis amnesia that the bludgeoning, 6ft 8in serving specialist has declined to represent his country in the Davis Cup for more than six years.

And now what could be described as the appetising icing on the cake of South African tennis progress, should it succeed, is the bid of Anderson and Raven Klaasen to respectively qualify for the elite singles and doubles ATP Finals in London in November for the first time the country would be represented in both events since they were combined in a single entity.

At this moment both Anderson and Klassen are tantalisingly on the outside looking in as far as ATP Finals qualification is concerned, with Anderson placed 11th in the race for the eight singles places and Klaasen in partnership with American partner Rajeev Ram ninth in line for the eight doubles positions.

Anderson, however, after gaining 1 200 qualifying points from his sterling exploits at Flushing Meadows, is better-placed than his 11th position would suggest because Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic, who are positioned ahead of him, have both indicated they will not play again this year while recuperating from injuries.

This leaves Anderson in what is effectively ninth qualifying position, one behind Sam Querry,  but  with a host of other formidable contenders like David Goffin Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Nick Kyrgios and Kei Nishikori bidding to join the top eight.

It all suggests a hectic and intriguing battle for the last of the eight qualifying places which might only be decided after the final Masters tournament of the year in Paris at the end of October.

As for the doubles, Klaasen and Ram - who were beaten finalists in the ATP Finals last year -  were positioned within the top eight for much of the current year, but a recent slump has relegated the pairing to ninth, while Klaasen's individual world doubles ranking has slipped from 10th to 18th.

But whatever the final outcome of the intriguing run-in, to have South Africans involved in the race for both ATP Finals places right up to the finishing line is a development in the right direction.

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