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THE SA Tennis Open began with doubles matches today. South Africa’s hopes are high, pinned on Kevin Anderson, who is ranked 56 in the world.Read MoreThe SA Tennis Open began with doubles matches today. South Africa’s hopes are high, pinned on Kevin Anderson, who is ranked 56 in the world.
ACTION both on and off the court has hinted at the excitement to come in the 2011 SA Tennis Open, which officially started on 31 January.

French player Jeremy Chardy withdrew from the competition late on Friday afternoon, just hours before the qualifiers were due to start on Saturday morning. According to media reports, personal reasons were cited for his withdrawal. Chardy, who is ranked 44 in the world, had been regarded as one to watch in the tournament. A shoulder injury forced him to pull out of the Open last year.

Swiss player Stephane Bohli, who is ranked 135 and progressed to the semifinals of last year’s Soweto Open, will replace Chardy.

This has boosted hopes that South Africa’s best player, Kevin Anderson, will come out tops. Anderson is ranked 56 and went through to the semifinals in the Brisbane International earlier this year, where he lost to world number eight Andy Roddick.

Also keeping South Africa’s hopes of victory alive are wild card players Izak van der Merwe, Rik de Voest and Fritz Wolmarans. Van der Merwe is ranked 175, de Voest 180 and Wolmarans 269.

Raven Klaasen, who is ranked 302, managed to fight his way through the weekend’s qualifiers and will be representing South Africa too. He beat Australia’s Jordan Kerr, ranked 89 in doubles and the USA’s Rajeev Ram, ranked 186, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, to earn his way into the competition.

The doubles matches are played before the singles and today’s line-up was:

Karol Beck (Slovakia) / Dudi Sela (Israel) vs Dustin Brown (Germany) / Rogier Wassen (Netherlands)
Adrian Mannarino (France) / Florent Serra (France) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (Chinese Taipei) / Janko Tipsarevic
Tomasz Bednarek (Poland) / Michal Przysiezny (Poland) vs Johan Brunstrom (Sweden) / Ken Skupski (Great Britain)
Stefano Galvani (Italy) vs Rik de Voest (South Africa)
Thiago Alves (Brazil) vs Simon Greul (Germany)
Somdev Devvarman (India) vs Raven Klaasen (South Africa)
A feature of this year’s tournament is ball-by-ball scoring, with a live scoreboard on the Open’s website. There are also online updates on the daily order of play and the results of the matches.

The SA Open is on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world tour and has been hosted at Montecasino since 2009, when it returned to Joburg after a 13-year hiatus caused by lack of sponsorship.

Sponsors of the tournament are the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, which is the core sponsor, South African Airways, Sata, Montecasino, Corona Extra, National Department of Sport and Recreation, and Jacaranda FM.

Tickets for matches range from R25 to R200 each and can be bought from Computicket or the Montecasino box office.

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