Cape Town – South Africa’s place in the inaugural ATP World Team Cup, which will be staged in Australia in January, is secure – come hell or high water.
This assurance has been given by South African-born Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley, who will supplement his role of Australian Open tournament director by handling the new, 10-day, 24-nation team event on behalf of the ATP as well.
Although South Africa has secured one of the 19 places already settled for the event that will be staged in top Australian cities by virtue of Kevin Anderson’s current 18th world ranking, South Africa’s top player will be out of action for six months while undergoing a rehabilitation programme plagued by injuries before the Team Cup is staged – this after competing with limited success in only five tournaments in 2019.
Anderson’s ranking will plummet by the time the Team Cup begins to something in the vicinity of 100 and doubts have surfaced over his very participation and match-fitness level.
But Tiley has confirmed South Africa’s entry will remain secure in all circumstances, although less comforting is the fact that included in imposing opening round opponents are a Serbian team headed by current world No 1 Novak Djokovic, backed up by world number 29, Dusan Lajovic, and a French combination that will include the already named Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire as the front-runners.
“At this point Kevin is a confirmed starter for the Team Cup,” says Tiley, “no matter what his ranking might be at the time that South Africa’s group will be staged in Brisbane. If he is not fit enough to compete – and we are confident at this stage he will participate – he can still be replaced by another player to link up with Lloyd Harris as the singles pair – and South Africa’s qualification will not be affected.”
The six countries who head their respective groups, as well as the two best-placed second teams, will qualify for the ATP World Cup quarter-finals, which culminate with semi-finals and a final to decide the eventual winners.
Tiley believes the team format in which icons Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, as well as other world top 10 players like Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev are all scheduled to participate, will prove highly successful and popular among Australian fans and also act as an ideal warm-up for the Australian Open, the opening grand slam event of 2020, which follows almost immediately.