Johannesburg - Kevin Anderson, who is South Africa's only representative in the 128-man men's singles event at the French Open at Roland Garros, won't be complaining about the draw he received on Friday for France's R120-million grand slam tournament.
Twenty-eight-year-old Anderson, who is ranked 20th in the world, will meet 85th world-ranked Frenchman Stephane Robert in the first round of the event that gets underway on Sunday, with a second round match-up, should he win, against either Bradley Klahn of the United States or another Frenchman in Axel Michon.
Klahn is ranked 71st in the world and Michon, with a 324th world ranking, is only in the tournament as an ordained wild card entry from the French Tennis Federation.
If anything should insert an element of caution for Anderson for what seems an inviting early start to the only claycourt grand slam event is the fact that Robert, Klahn and Michon are all noted to play their best tennis on this particular surface. After the opening two rounds, the going will get progressively tougher for the 6ft 8in South African big server with a likely encounter against budding 12th world ranked sensation Grigor Dimitrov in the third round and a possible confrontation against fifth-seeded clay court master David Ferrer in the fourth round.
Anderson equalled his best-ever performance in a grand slam event while reaching last year's fourth round in the French Open and needs to repeat this performance in order not to drop ranking points and a possible place among the world's top 20 players. If this is not sufficient incentive, even a fourth round place will mean earnings of over R1,5-million from the prize money available in Paris this year for a fourth round place, with the amount increasing to over R3-million for a quarter-final berth.
Chasing the R20-million winners prize for a record ninth and fifth successive French Open title will be Rafael Nadal. But recent results suggest that the current world number one will be hard-pressed to ward off a challenge from world number two Novak Djokovic, current Australian Open title holder Stan Wawrinka, Ferrer and a whole host of challengers who have closed the gap noticably with the claycourt supremo this year.
South Africa's only representative in the women's singles is 91st world ranked Chani Scheepers, who faces Spain's Soler Espinosa in the first round and is in a tough segment of the draw.
World 24th-ranked doubles player Raven Klaasen, will be hoping to emulate his success in this year's Australian Open with American partner Eric Butorac.
The draws for the three doubles events at Roland Garros are due to be made on Saturday.