Fri, 14 Aug 2020

Wimbledon 2019: Highs and lows from SA perspective

12 Jul 2019, 17:12 GMT+10

Cape Town - Here are the happy tidings emerging from a South African perspective as Wimbledon's incident-packed, uniformly high-quality Grand Slam tournament promises to culminate in a crescendo of exceptional, eagerly-awaited match-ups.

Despite Cape Town-based doubles specialist, Raven Klaasen, and his New Zealand partner, Michael Venus, losing to the formidable Colombian pair of Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal in Thursday's semi-final, there will be a tangible South African influence in the final.

What on the surface appears as something of a paradox is explained by the fact that Farah and Cabal are coached by former South African Davis Cup player, Jeff Coetzee, himself noted for his doubles exploits and who has after several years at the helm of the Colombians guided the South Americans to become the most successful doubles couple on the ATP circuit in 2019.

And a further irony of Klaasen and the 42-year-old Coetzee standing poised in opposite corners for the Wimbledon semi-final is that their careers and tennis upbringings are so strikingly similar, with both reaching a conclusion timeously that they were not going to make the top-bracket in singles and deciding to turn their attention to the doubles court - where Klaasen will achieve a career-best world ranking of eighth or better on Monday and Coetzee reached a world ranking of 12th during his own successful playing career.

Meanwhile, it's been a contrastingly unhappy Wimbledon for top South African player and 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson, who as a result of his early third round loss against an in-form, impeccable Argentinian Guido Pella will not only drop out of the prized top 10 places in the world rankings for the first time in more than a year, but he is also set to shed a massive 1 110 ranking points while slipping to 11th position.

The Wimbledon woes have culminated in a year of interrupted tournament appearances for Anderson which have been marked by injury and minimum success, with the current Grand Slam in which he received a somewhat surprising fourth seeding designed to be the ideal avenue for a comeback.

"It must have been especially disappointing for Kevin after he was seeded fourth, in spite of his eighth ranking at the time, which theoretically should have assisted in him receiving a more sympathetic draw," said South African-born Kevin Curren, himself a former Wimbledon finalist.

"Also Pella, who beat Anderson, is a stroke maker in the highest bracket, but his success in the past has been on hard and clay courts and in Anderson he had to overcome someone whose big serve is considered a particularly potent weapon on grass surfaces."

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