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The tournament is wide open, with last year’s winner, Feliciano Lopez, out of contention. South Africa’s players are doing very well, giving rise to hopes the trophy will stay at home.
SPAIN’S Feliciano Lopez, the defending champion of the SA Tennis Open, has been knocked out of the competition in the first round. This has left South African fans hopeful that home-grown hero Kevin Anderson or one of his compatriots will take the title.

Izak van der Merwe (Photo: Reg Cadelcott)Izak van der Merwe beat Dustin Brwon to advance to the next round (Photo: Reg Caldecott)Lopez faced Canadian Frank Dancevic in what turned out to be an exhilarating clash. Tie breaks ruled the day, and ultimately Lopez could not shake off Dancevic. The Canadian walked away from the match with a 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(8) conquest under his sweaty belt.

The other matches of day three proved to be just as heart-stopping. The South African players made a clean sweep in their singles matches, all emerging victorious against their rivals.

Rik de Voest overpowered Polish player Michal Przysiezny 6-3 6-4, and fellow wild card holder Izak van der Merwe trounced Germany’s Dustin Brown 4-6 7-5 6-3. Fritz Wolmarans, also of the wild card club, courted success by defeating Dutch competitor Igor Sijsling 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Canada’s Milos Raonic, who knocked out contender Yen-Hsun Lu on day two, could not maintain his momentum and lost out to Simon Greul from Germany 7-6(5) 6-4. India’s Somdev Devvarman held on to his hot streak by dominating Netherlands’ Jesse Huta Galung 6-3 6-4. Galung had overcome Janko Tipsarevic earlier in the day with a score of 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(4), but could not stand up to Devvarman.

Go Soeda from Japan triumphed over Germany’s Rainer Schuettler 3-6 6-4 6-4; Israel’s Dudi Sela came back from a slow start to sweep away France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin 1-6 7-5 6-4; and Karol Beck from Slovakia prevailed over Argentina’s Brian Dabul 7-5 7-6(4).

The results of the doubles games were as unpredictable as the singles, with upsets and surprises sharing the spotlight. South African partners De Voest and Van der Merwe emerged triumphant, but Anderson and Wolmarans did not enjoy the same fate.

De Voest and Van der Merwe squared off with Austrians Philipp Oswald and Martin Slanar and subdued them 6-1 6-2. Anderson and Wolmarans were up against a lethal duo, Adil Shamasdin from Canada and James Cerretani from USA, and could not fight their way back. They lost 7-6(1) 6-4.

The Americans seemed to be having a good day in the doubles, with Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram beating the Thai pair Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana 6-1 3-6 10-8, and David Martin joining forces with Devvarman from India to defeat Martin Fischer from Austria and Schuettler 6-3 6-4.

James Murray from Great Britain and Austrian Alexander Peya managed to override the Australian twosome of Jordan Kerr and Ashley Fisher 2-6 6-2 10-7.

Day four guarantees more sleight of hand to excite, and the order of play is:

Centre Court
Starts at noon

Karol Beck (Slovakia) vs Go Soeda (Japan)
Not before 1pm

Kevin Anderson (South Africa) vs Dudi Sela (Israel)
Not before 3pm

Scott Lipsky (USA) / Rajeev Ram (USA) vs Rik de Voest (South Africa) / Izak van der Merwe (South Africa)
Not before 6pm

Denis Gremelmayr (Germany) vs Adrian Mannarino (France)
Frank Dancevic (Canada) vs Fritz Wolmarans (South Africa)
James Cerretani (USA) / Adil Shamasdin (Canada) vs Tomasz Bednarek (Poland) / Michal Przysiezny (Poland)
Court 1
Starts at 3pm

James Murray (Great Britain) / Alexander Peya (Austria) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (Chinese Taipei) / Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia)
Somdev Devvarman (India) / David Martin (USA) vs Karol Beck (Slovakia) / Dudi Sela (Israel)
The matches are broadcast on SuperSport 6, and minute-by-minute scoring is available on the Open website. The website also has updates on the daily order of play and results of games.

For those who prefer seeing the action on the frontlines, tickets are available from Computicket or the Montecasino box office and range from R40 to R200 for the finals on Saturday and Sunday.

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