Storm clouds over SA Open
Johannesburg – With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the future of the South African Open, tournament director Ian Smith confirmed on Thursday that there was not money available to lure big names to Montecasino this year.
Even so, he believes that the entries for the men’s tournament, which stretches from 31 January to 6 February, is overall superior to the previous two years.
The cut-off point for the 23 players that have been directly included in the main draw is position 122 in the world rankings, with the eight seeded players all among the top 100.
However, unlike the previous two years, there are no big names such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer and Gael Monfils. They were all among the top 10 in the world.
Top-seed and defending champion Feliciano Lopez, of Spain, is 32nd in the world rankings.
Smith said that one had to pay appearance fees to top players such as Andy Roddick, Tsonga and Andy Murray.
“Not one of the players participating this year is receiving a cent in terms of appearance money. We are happy that we can host the tournament with some strong entries. A number of tournaments elsewhere in the world had to scale down, and some were even cancelled because of the economic conditions,” he said.
The Lotto is the major source of financial support for the SA Open, with South African Airways having decreased its financial support, and unlikely to be a sponsor again next year.
Smith confirmed that there is uncertainty surrounding the 2012 tournament.
Among the top seeds in this year’s tournament - Lopez, Kevin Anderson and Janko Tipsarevic – have made early exits from the Australian Open.
The seeds for the SA Open are: 1. Feliciano Lopez (32), 2. Yen-Hsun Lu (35), 3. Jeremy Chardy (45), 4. Janko Tipsarevic (46), 5. Kevin Anderson (SA, 61), 6. Dudi Sela (75), 7. Adrian Mannarino (83), 8. Rainer Schüttler (84).