Cape Town – A year of some distinctly notable highlights has ended in contrasting disappointment for top South African tennis players Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen, with both failing to qualify for the elite ATP Finals in London this month.
Ironically, both had forged into encouraging positions to end up among the eight qualifiers for the singles and doubles respectively – only to finish with a string of bleak results in the ATP's final leg of tournaments for the year.
For Anderson, who had earlier achieved the highlight of his career as a finalist in the US Open, it must have been a galling finale as he lost opening games against Spain's talented, but enigmatic Fernando Verdasco in the Swiss and Paris indoor tournaments – and with it the handful of points he needed to make it to London.
A spate of injuries to players like Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka had opened the way for the 31 year-old Anderson to qualify for the ATP Finals for the first time.
Instead Anderson will finish 11th on the roster of candidates for the eight qualifying positions, with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin having cemented their positions and the last place to be settled by either Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro or Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.
As soothing compensation, no doubt, for Anderson is the fact that his year-end ATP World singles ranking will be either 13th or 14th – a dramatic improvement from that deep into the 70s at the start of the year.
For Klaasen, however, there has been a notable year-end slump with his American doubles partner, Rajeev Ram, culminating in the last 16 round defeat against Feliciano and Marc Lopez in Paris this week that torpedoed one-time almost certain qualification for London.
And adding, no doubt, to the bitter disappointment is that Klaasen and Ram were finalists in London last year.
Worse still, Klaasen's one-time ATP world doubles ranking of 10th has now slipped to 26th position.