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Tennis | SA Tennis

Kevin Anderson © Gallo Images

Anderson damaging his career - Segal



Kevin Anderson is damaging his career by continuing to make himself unavailable for the South African team, said Davis Cup stalwart Abe Segal on Tuesday.

"Anderson claims he is missing Davis Cup action in order to improve his career via tournament appearances, but playing in tournaments does not stop the world's best players – like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych – from competing in the Davis Cup," Segal said.

"In any case, Anderson would become a national hero if he saved South Africa from relegation and his image and career would rise sky-high, instead of him being something of a tennis pariah among the local folk."

Anderson, ranked 21st in the world, had pulled out of next month's critical Euro-Africa Group One away tie against Slovenia, in which possible relegation was at stake for the South African team.

Despite playing the best tennis of his career at the moment, the big-serving, 6ft 8in Anderson's withdrawal from the tie was confirmed on Monday by his agent, Stuart Duguid.

"Kevin won't be playing against Slovenia," said Duguid.

"I don't think Kevin wants to repeat the reasons for his decision.

"He put his case forward when withdrawing from last year's World Group play-off against Canada, and the defeat this year against Poland, and the situation has not changed.

Duguid said Anderson had not ruled himself out of contention for future Cup ties and would decide on a tie-by-tie basis. He would take into account factors including the venue, court surface, travel involved, his physical condition and financial compensation.

"There is a time when you need to make sacrifices for your country," Segal said.

"What is more, I believe the decision to be short-sighted as far as his own interests are concerned."

Tennis SA CEO Ian Smith and Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager said no word had been received directly from Anderson regarding his availability, in spite of a request made several months ago for his decision.

With Anderson included, South Africa would have more than a fighting chance of avoiding defeat against Slovenia and eliminating any chance of a humbling drop to the Euro-Africa Group Two segment of the Davis Cup, after reaching the World Group play-off stage in each of the four previous years.

Without him, the Slovenian squad of Grega Zemlja, 55th in the world, Aljaz Bedene (106th) and Blaz Kavcic (120th), enjoying home-court advantage and all ranked infinitely higher than South Africa's next best Rik De Voest on 163rd, the odds would swing heavily in favour of the East Europeans for the tie which gets underway on September 13.

Defeat against the Slovenians would mean South Africa facing an even tougher away tie against a Russian line-up that could include players of the calibre of Mikhail Youzhny (27th in the world), Nikolay Davedenko (42nd) and four others in the top 100, to avoid the drop.

"Obviously without him in the team it will be a massive blow but we have to be positive in a do-or-die situation," De Jager said.

Further hampering South Africa's prospects was the unavailability of the nationally third-ranked Izak van der Merwe, who was recovering from surgery for a long-term heel and ankle injury and would be out of competitive tennis until November.

"I am deeply sorry to miss the forthcoming Davis Cup action," said Van der Merwe, "and hopefully I will be able to reclaim my place in the team next year."



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