Yesterday Kevin Anderson was knocked out of Wimbledon after running the World Number 1, Novak Djokovic, extremely close in an epic decided over two days. While there were large elements of pride in South African fans who had seen a local man make it to the final week of Wimbledon on the back of making the final at Queens, there were also large elements of dissent from supporters who are hurt by the fact that Kevin Anderson wont feature for South Africa in the Davis Cup.
I have previously been in the Anderson disappointment camp but after reading his post on his blog last week, I was completely apologetic. Another South African sports star being mistreated by the administration, something that is far too common in South African sport and for saying this I might get a nasty nod in my direction from powers. It however appears that some have been unable to move along from what they deem is betrayal from our finest tennis player. Until Kevin starts winning tournaments on a regular basis it appears he may never gain full support of South Africa.
I’m happy that Kevin Anderson lost! He doesn’t play Davis Cup tennis for SA. He’s taken US citizenship to play for America Fuck him!
— Siya Mlozana™ (@Niro2_1) July 7, 2015
There were numerous tweets about Kevin Anderson being the Kevin Pietersen of South African Tennis, or being more American than South African. It should be underlined that Kevin would be the topped ranked American if he took up US citizenship and would receive a massive amount of support from the US Tennis Association, however he chooses to still perform under the South African flag with the letters “RSA” proudly emblazoned next to his name. He has also not once bad mouthed the land of his birth, something that clearly separates him from his cricketing namesake. His form this year has started to see South Africa emerge on the map in terms of world tennis once again. Something that hasn’t happened since the retirement of Amanda Coetzer and Wayne Ferreira.
— Luke Malgas (@lukekaya100) June 29, 2015
I suppose the other thing that we really need to consider is the status of the Davis Cup. Roger Federer is an 18 time grand slam winner and an Olympic Gold medalist, yet when discussed his Davis Cup success is seen as the less important. Stan Wawrinka would never trade his maiden Grand Slam win for the Davis Cup win. Tennis is an individual sport and the greatest are measured by their displays in the singles format. In fact the Davis Cup is like an irritating rash, no one cares until it gets massive and it is forgotten as soon as it is healed.
Kevin Anderson is a victim of poor administration and also a victim of a patriotic supporting country, but if he continues to represent South Africa on the world stage with the quality he displayed at Wimbledon, he will quickly start to win over all the doubters. It’s a curious case isn’t it.