Anderson 'best since Ferreira'
Johannesburg - Annexing the South African Open title at Montecasino on Sunday has reaped quick rewards for Kevin Anderson - with the world ranking of 40th announced by the ATP on Monday not bettered by any South African since the Wayne Ferreira era from 1992 to 2003.
In the process, Anderson has improved his own ranking 19 places and comfortably bettered his previous best mark of 56th in the world.
And while the gangling 6-foot-8 Anderson might still have some considerable way to go to equal the achievements of Ferreira, who won 15 ATP titles and was ranked among the top 10 players in the world for a number of years, his achievement in becoming the first South African to hold the national title since Christo van Rensburg in 1989 has emerged as a timely stimulant for tennis generally in the country.
Ironically it coincides with the ATP's decision to remove the South African Open from its world tour calendar for 2012 after three successful years at Montecasino - culminating in the conspicuous successes by Anderson and other South Africans like Izak van der Merwe, who reached the semi-finals, and Rik De Voest, who was a quarter-finalist this time around.
"I've heard all kinds of explanations as to why this has happened," said the perplexed former South African Davis Cup star Abe Segal, "like the three-year deal with the ATP having expired, that the ATP are in the process of shortening their programme, sponsorship money is scarce and there has been a bit of bungling all-round by those involved.
"But the bottom line," he added, "is that it is simply crazy that the South African Open should lose its ATP status right now - and, one way or another, it should just not be allowed to happen."
And while South African Tennis Association CEO Ian Smith has confirmed that the late January-early February date for the South African Open has already been removed from the ATP's calendar, "everything possible will be done to find another date to keep the tournament alive in 2012."
And supporting the initiative are the vast majority of international players, led by last year's winner, Feliciano Lopez, who have played in South Africa during the past three years and have unanimously proclaimed the Montecasino tournament among the very best worldwide in the 250-points category.