Tennis

Soweto Open seeks drawcard

2012-11-17 15:20
Lleyton Hewitt (AFP)

Johannesburg - The search for "a bigger and better tournament" when the Soweto Open is revived at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Jabavu next year is in full progress - but with some up and downs in the process.

The main priorities are to include a major drawcard to generate widespread interest in the event and to achieve furthering interest in tennis in areas like Soweto, while unearthing a fresh vein of talent.

However, Tennis SA media consultant Bruce Davidson confirmed on Saturday the R800 000 prize money tournament, which would include both men's and women's events, would not be able to include ATP players ranked among the top 50 in the world because of its likely Challenger status.

"This is due to the ruling by the ATP to give players ranked outside the top 50 the chance to win titles," explained Davidson.

"With such a great depth of talent in tennis worldwide right now, the door still remains open to attract a top-class entry."

Confirming this is the fact that such renowned players as Michael Llodra, Gael Monfils, David Nalbandian and Lleyton Hewitt are all ranked outside of the world top 50.

Llodra, ranked 52nd, beat several top-20 players to reach the Paris Open Masters semi-final recently while French Davis Cup star Monfils is ranked 78th.

Former Masters champion Nalbandian, at 81, and former world No 1 Hewitt, now in 82nd position, would also be attractive targets.

Veteran former world top tenner James Blake, a prodigy of the iconic Arthur Ashe, after whom the Soweto venue was named and who came up with the idea of structuring the complex, may now be past his best, but he would be an appropriate and singularly sentimental choice.

Finance, however, remained a problem in signing big-name players, despite the R5m injection from the Department of Sport, which has allowed the Soweto Open to feature again on the international calendar after it was cancelled this year.

The ATP ban on top-50 players featuring in Challenger tournaments meant top-ranked South African Kevin Anderson, 36th in the world, would not be eligible to play in the Soweto Open.

The disturbing drop in the rankings of the country's other frontliners, Rik De Voest and Izak van der Merwe, meant they might only obtain entry into next year's tournament via wildcards.

Van der Merwe, ranked 220, is the current Soweto Open men's singles champion and De Voest, now ranked 214, has reached two finals.

Davidson said the date for the Soweto Open was still in the pipeline, with Tennis SA in negotiations with both the men's ATP and women's WTA organisations.

"The event is 100 percent certain but the issue is determining available dates on the ATP and WTA calendars - one that fits in with both the men's and women's circuit."

NEXT ON SPORT24X

Rosol advances in Kitzbuehel

2014-07-30 20:08

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • SS3
    Thu, 31 Jul 2014 @
    04:00
  • SS4
    Thu, 31 Jul 2014 @
    05:00
  • SS5
    Thu, 31 Jul 2014 @
    05:59
  • SS7
    Thu, 31 Jul 2014 @
    06:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
Vote

Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.