ATP Tour

A long way from Australian Open to Soweto

2020-01-02 21:12
Kevin Anderson (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Few pundits, if any at this stage, are expecting either Kevin Anderson or Lloyd Harris to be participating in the Australian Open men's singles final at the Rod Laver Stadium in Melbourne Park on Sunday, February 2.

Notwithstanding this, there is a tinge of curious irony over the announcement by Tennis South Africa that the exhibition match-up they have negotiated between South Africa's top two players will take place at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in Soweto - on the very same day as the final Down Under.

Have the two players involved and/or TSA already conceded that the unlikely occurrence of a South African final appearance in Melbourne is indeed impossible - or is it simply an oversight and not the total, if somewhat inappropriate lack of confidence in either Anderson or Harris upsetting all the odds at the Australian Open?

Or is it simply that TSA's negotiations with the two South African players and their representatives has not been able to come with any other date on which Anderson and Harris can make themselves available for an exhibition that is construed as a timely boost in their concerted plans to enhance the stature, interest and prestige of South African tennis to levels it once enjoyed?

Remember, of course, that the big-serving Anderson has already earned to his credit appearances in two previous grand slam finals, namely in the US Open and Wimbledon, with a No 5 world ranking at one point to his credit as well.

But 2019 has marked a downward slide to the 6-foot-8 South African's fortunes, manifested to a large extent by a string of injuries that limited his tournament appearances to a mere five and resulted in his world ranking of sixth at the start of the year plummeting to 92nd at the start of the 2020 season.

Anderson will be back in action as part of the South African side in the inaugural ATP Cup event in Australia this week, but his form and fitness at the age of 34 after a six month absence from tournament tennis must be regarded as something of an unknown factor.

And, in the circumstances, it would be nothing short of mind-boggling if Anderson elevates himself to a final appearance at the teeming Rod Laver Arena on February 2 - thereby making his appearance in Soweto for the Harris exhibition out of the question.

It's a situation which TSA might not find altogether untenable, if somewhat embarrassing.

Right now, however, the duplicating of dates remains no more than a distant possibility - with the situation, nonetheless, containing a 'believe it or not' phenomenon.

Read more on:    atp tour  |  australian open  |  kevin anderson  |  tennis

 

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