South Africa's world-acclaimed doubles player Raven Klaasen was laid low by Covid-19 and has been unable to travel to Australia in time for the year's first Grand Slam starting in Melbourne on Monday.
Klaasen, a former Australian Open doubles finalist, has been recovering since late January but he was unable to conform with the time schedules and protocols that were in place for the 2021 showpiece.
This unfortunate turn of events has robbed the 38-year-old Klaasen of participating in yet another Grand Slam but Tennis South Africa officials were delighted that he has decided to play the two back-to-back ATP Challenger 80 events starting on Monday at the North-West University tennis complex in Potchefstroom.
"The reason why Raven Klaasen is not playing the Australian Open is that he tested positive for Covid-19," said Klaasen's coach Stephan De Kock.
"We missed the window period for players to fly in and go into quarantine. As a result of the virus, Klaasen could not train and prepare for the Aussie Open.
"This setback affected all our plans to prepare for the Aussie Open, and now there is a chance to play matches here in Potchefstroom.
"Here in Potchefstroom, Klaasen can recover completely, and that will enable him to compete at a higher level.
"That was the thinking behind the idea to come to Potch. Here he can remain healthy and have the benefit of playing matches.
"Usually, we don't play challenger events, and last year we also missed out because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Ruan (Roelofse) will play together (in the doubles competition). They have played as a team many times in Davis Cup competition for South Africa.
"Apart from Davis Cup matches, Klaasen has not played in South Africa since 2011. He is thrilled to be playing on home soil again, and this will be vital for his preparation for the 2021 season.
"Next up on the World Tour for Klaasen will Dubai and then Miami in March,"
- Tennis SA