ATP Tour

SA's place in ATP Cup tennis event in jeopardy

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Kevin Anderson. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Kevin Anderson. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

It is shaping ironically like a possible bitter irony for next year's event after South Africa made an encouraging appearance in the ATP Cup event in Australia.

The South African squad of Kevin Anderson, Lloyd Harris, Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse was beaten comprehensively by Novak Djokovic's eventual tournament-winning Serbian team in the ATP Cup early this year, but proved its mettle in accounting for a strong French line-up, as well as the awkward Chilean combination.

But with the event before February's Australian Open now reduced from 24 teams to 12 as a result of organising complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, tournament director and Australian tennis CEO Craig Tiley has revealed South Africa's participation is unhappily in jeopardy. 

"It won't be my decision," said the industrious Tiley, himself born in South Africa, "but the final composition of the teams in the trimmed Team Cup will be based on the world rankings of the players involved - and, on this basis, South Africa are in 15th position and will only be included in the final 12 places if three of the countries above them do not enter teams for the tournament."

However, Tiley said the situation might not be as bleak as it might seem for South Africa, with some countries' top players not making themselves available for the ATP Cup and taking a different route in preparing for the Australian Open Grand Slam event, which follows soon afterwards.

"In fact I am aware of a couple of countries who are in this predicament," said the Australian tennis chief, "and we'll have to see how matters pan out in regard to the line-ups that are submitted."

One such country with doubts could be Switzerland, with the legendary Roger Federer still battling to regain full fitness after strictly limited tournament appearances in 2020 after undergoing knee surgery on two occasions and possibly deciding that playing in the ATP Cup so close to the Australian Open might not be the best strategy.

But holders Serbia, Russia and Spain, with a depth of top players, loom among the certain contenders and, ATP Cup favourites.

As for South Africa, "it's something of a lottery and a wait-and-see situation," says the non-committal Tiley.

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