After having his loyalty and honesty questioned by South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager, Kevin Anderson wanted to set the record straight. Anderson, who decided not to represent his country against Canada in Montreal over the next few days, was publicly criticized by de Jager (via iol sport):
"I'm disappointed because Kevin hasn't been honest with me. He initially spoke of a knee injury preventing him playing in the tie.
"Now he's playing World Team Tennis. He's a world-class player, but clearly, playing Davis Cup for his country is not one of his priorities."
On Friday, Anderson posted a very intelligent and carefully constructed response on his personal blog:
"In 2011 I played Davis Cup because it was financially attractive to do so; I was able to cover my expenses during the Davis Cup week and also the opportunity cost of adjusting my tournament schedule. However for this tie against Canada, TSA was not able to provide the support that justified me sacrificing my schedule and increasing my risk of injury. If I am injured during Davis Cup play, which happened last year, I receive no support, assistance or insurance from anybody. I am on my own. I told TSA during Wimbledon that the compensation for the tie needed to be sufficient to address the issues at hand. I was available to the play the tie against Canada if TSA had made me an offer that addressed my concerns. However, they did not."
Despite being the 37th ranked singles player in the world and earning almost $2 million in prize money over his career and over $500,000 in 2012 alone, the financial burden of competing on the ATP Tour forced Anderson's decision.
"I have funded my entire career on my own. I find myself in a tricky position in attracting sponsors when I am a South African living mainly in the United States, so I have to rely heavily on prize money which is never guaranteed. Having both a coach and a physio travel with me is a huge financial burden. The prize money for someone with my ranking is not as much as you might expect when compared to the costs of life on tour; it is certainly not comparable to the earnings of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, etc. Tennis South Africa (TSA) has never provided financial support or funding to help cover the costs of playing on the tour."
[Photos: Davis Cup action]
The TSA's inability to provide financial assistance to its players should come as no surprise. South Africa was supposed to host the tie with Canada but requested that it be moved to Canada because they could not afford to do so.
Anderson is not alone in his criticism of the Davis Cup. Rafael Nadal and some of the other top tennis players on the ATP World Tour have long been angry over scheduling. So much so that last year Nadal even spoke about a possible boycott of the tournament (via ESPN.com):
"We don't want to get there. We want to play. But if it's a fight about something that we think is fair, something would have to happen," Nadal said on Friday. "Sometimes the only way to make things happen is to choose strong action."
Nadal insisted an "evolution" in the calendar must be made or "we might get to a place where we might not want to be."
The concerns of Nadal and Anderson are obviously very different but both represent hurdles the International Tennis Federation must clear before the Davis Cup can truly thrive and garner the attention it deserves. Regardless of the reasons, if the world's top players are reluctant to participate or are not showing up all together then how can the fans be expected to?
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