Our top-ranked tennis player, Kevin Anderson will be part of the line-up for the 2011 SA Open at Montecasino in Johannesburg from 31 January-6 February.
Also back is the 2010 champion, Feliciano Lopez of Spain while 2008 finalist, Jeremy Chardy of France, will be hoping to go one better this time.
But world No 61 Kevin Anderson will be a huge boost for organisers of the R3.5-million tournament. Anderson contested the 2008 tournament but skipped┬á last year.
ÔÇ£It is very exciting for us to have Kevin back for next year’s tournament,ÔÇØ said Tournament Director Ian Smith. ÔÇ£The South African public love to support the local players and with his current form, Kevin is sure to give them something to shout about.ÔÇØ
Lopez found the altitude and the faster courts suited his game ideally last year and he ended a long drought by winning the tournament. He is an exciting player to watch and has had some outstanding results this year, notably a straight-sets victory over world No 1 Rafael Nadal at the Queen’s Club at London in June.
He is currently ranked 32 in the world and as the rankings stand right now he would be the top seed for the tournament.
Chardy entered last year’s event but was forced to pull out due to injury. He struggled a bit during the year but probably his best performance came at the Canadian Masters in Toronto where he beat Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko on his path to the quarter-finals where he was stopped by Novak Djokovic.
At the Shanghai Masters Chardy had to qualify and then defeated Baghdatis and Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine before losing to Andy Murray in the round of 16.
Perhaps one of the most exciting players in this year’s line-up is Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei. Lu played this tournament earlier in the year when he was ranked 98th in the world but after a remarkable year he is currently ranked at No35. His most memorable performance came at Wimbledon this year where he reached the quarter-finals and took out 2008 finalist Andy Roddick in what some people have called the upset of the year.
Also in the field is Rainer Schuettler.The hard-working German, No34, reached the finals of the Australian Open in 2003, which saw him attain a career-high ranking of No 5 and earned him the ATP Most Improved Player award that year.
Schuettler dropped off the radar due to injury but suddenly had a resurgence in 2008 and made the semi-finals of Wimbledon. That achievement saw him named as the ATP Comeback Player Of The Year.
The German, currently ranked 84, was a member of the Davis Cup team that clinched a 3-2 win over South Africa a few years back. Schuettler, in fact, closed out the tie for Germany when he beat Wayne Ferreira in the final match of the tie. It was also Ferreira’s swansong.
Also in the field are Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu and flamboyant Serb Janko Tipsarevic. Just two years ago Mathieu was ranked No12 in the world but has now dropped to 98. He is a remarkable player on his day and is sure to have his supporters.
Tipsarevic, usually attired in his designer sunglasses – even indoors, never plays percentage tennis and he can flash winners from any place on the tennis court. He is flashy and mercurial but never dull and he is another who will set the courts at Montecasino alight.
ÔÇ£Considering that the Australian Open is played just before our tournament which makes top-20 players hard to acquire, I feel we’ve put together a most competitive and interesting field,” said Smith. I have little doubt we will be witnessing some remarkable tennis during the first week of February.ÔÇØ
The qualifying tournament will be played over the weekend 29 and 30 January and there will be no charge for tennis fans to attend over those two days.
Tickets are available at all Computicket outlets nationwide and the Montecasino Box Office.