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
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.