Johannesburg - Former South African Davis Cup captain Craig Tiley has been lauded for the remarkable success of the recently-completed Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Born in Johannesburg, Tiley has been the tournament director of the Grand Slam tennis event for the past four years.
"Craig was always an optimist who aimed high and worked hard to achieve success," said South African Tennis Association (SATA) marketing manager Bruce Davidson on Tuesday.
"Now that he is being universally praised for what men's singles finalists Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and others have described as the best-run tournament on the international tennis circuit, he has received his just reward."
Davidson said Tiley was only an average player, but was dedicated to tennis and researched and studied all aspects of the game - with a special interest in the development of young talent.
Apart from his position as tournament director of the Australian Open, Tiley is also the Development Director of the Australian Tennis Association.
"He had big plans for South African tennis when he was captain of the Davis Cup team," added Davidson.
"Unfortunately, SATA did not have the resources to put these plans into practice and he was replaced by former Wimbledon finalist Kevin Curren."
Ironically, in the 1970s, it was the South African Open that was flourishing and attracting many of the best players in the world - among them Rod Laver, after whom the main stadium at the modernised Melbourne Park complex is named, Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe, Guillermo Vilas and many others - while the Australian Open was in the doldrums with talk that it could lose its Grand Slam status.
Since then, the Australian Open has flourished and gone from strength to strength, with this year's event attracting almost 700 000 spectators and producing matches like the five hour, 53 minute epic final between Djokovic and Nadal.
Meanwhile, the South African Open stagnated and went out of existence. It was revived and held at Montecasino for three years, but this year it has, once again, been wiped off the agenda.