SA hits 50-year Wimbledon low

2014-06-20 19:01
Kevin Anderson (AFP)

Johannesburg - Despite top-ranked South African players Kevin Anderson and Chani Scheepers securing places in the Wimbledon men's and women's singles draws, the country's overall singles participation in the historic event constitutes a 50-year low.

Apart from Anderson and Scheepers, no other South African has been able to reach a sufficiently high world ranking to earn a place in the 128-player qualifying segment of the tournament, which starts in London on Monday.

With the winding down of Rik de Voest's career on the professional circuit and the slow recovery from surgery hampering Izak van Merwe's return to the game, South Africa's second highest world-ranked player now is Fritz Wolmarans. He is in 485th position, not nearly good enough for the Wimbledon qualifying rounds.

South African number two women's player Chanel Simmonds, whose ranking has slipped to 232nd, is also a non-starter in the women's qualifying segment.

The 20th seeded Anderson received a draw as good as anything he could have hoped for in the circumstances.

Seeking to reach a grand slam quarter-final for the first time, Anderson will come up against 132nd-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the opening round.

He could expect a tougher encounter against either improving 53rd-ranked Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Italy's Filippo Volandri if he makes it into the second round.

His opponent in the third round is 15th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini, better known as a clay court exponent, who has yet to make a major impact on grass surfaces.

Scheepers, whose ranking has slipped from 42nd to 97th during the past year, was not so lucky in the women's draw.

A first-round game against the 49th world ranked American prospect, Christina McHale, is a tough undertaking. Her likely second round opponent is the top-seeded world number one, Serena Williams.


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