Soweto top four back | SASCOC - SASCOC

Soweto top four back

All last year’s four men’s and women’s finalists are back to play in this year’s Soweto Open at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium for this year’s tournaments to be played from 11-16 April.

Dustin Brown, who now plays out of Germany, defeated South Africa’s Izak van der Merwe in last year’s final but the South African avenged that loss at the SA Tennis Open at Montecasino, Johannesburg earlier this year.

In the women’s final unseeded Nina Bratchikova of Russia got the better of Thailand’s veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn. They both return but this time around the Russian is likely to be seeded.

Rik de Voest (ranked No 147) will join Van der Merwe (No 148) as the only other South Africans directly in the main draw but that number is likely to increase following the qualification draw and the announcement of the wild cards. In addition, Raven Klaasen is the first alternate so in the event somebody drops out of the main draw, Klaasen will get that spot.

However, there is a former South African in the draw and that is Australian Matthew Ebden. The former Durbanite represented South Africa at the 1999 Nike Junior Tour International Finals in Barcelona as a 12-year-old, which saw Kevin Anderson, now our top-ranked singles player at No40 in the world, as the under-14 representative. That tournament was won by a 13-year-old Rafael Nadal.
Ebden has performed reasonably well in Australia and is currently ranked No 195.

Based on their current rankings Brown would be the top seed with left-hander Gilles Muller of Luxembourg at No 2. One of Muller’s achievements was putting Nadal out of Wimbledon in the Spaniard’s first appearance in the London Grand Slam.

There are no South Africans directly into the main draw of the women’s tournament but again, that will no doubt change once the wild cards are announced by the South African Tennis Association. Top seed for the women’s event is likely to be Italy’s Alberta Brianti, who is currently ranked at No 95, but has been as high as No 67. Tanasugarn is placed to be the No 2 seed with Britain’s Anne Keothavong at 3.

An interesting entry is Anne Kremer of Luxembourg, who was once ranked as high as 18th in July 2002. She is now 35 years old, on the comeback trail and currently ranked at No 145.

ÔÇ£If one considers that many of these players were in action at the SA Tennis Open in February one has to say this is a pretty decent field for a challenger event,ÔÇØ said Tournament Director Gavin Crookes. ÔÇ£There was some wonderful tennis at Montecasino, where Izak reached the semi-finals, and I expect the same the level in Soweto. The only difference is that we also have some wonderful women’s tennis to further boost the occasion.ÔÇØ Crookes added.