Cape Town – They are both considered nice and likeable guys for that matter – but when it comes to the Davis Cup, the globe's largest international annual sports team event, Spain's Rafael Nadal and South Africa's Kevin Anderson are worlds apart.
Nadal last weekend completed a daunting and astonishing world record 24 successive Davis Cup singles and doubles victories dating back to 2005 while spearheading Spain to a dramatic 3-2 victory over Germany with throbbing, pulsating victories over Alexander Zverev and Philipp Kohlschreiber
It assured Spain a semi-final berth in the 2018 World Group segment of the tournament, with a fifth Davis Cup title now in sight for the indefatigable Nadal.
Significant too is the fact that the 16-times Grand Slam winning Nadal could easily have been excused from participating in the gruelling German tie in view of the fact that he was making a tentative return to tennis after an absence of three months through injury.
Anderson, in contrast, elected to continue his self-imposed, seven-year exile from Davis Cup competition dating back to 2011 for the 3-2 Euro-Africa Group One loss against Israel at the Irene Country Club on the outskirts of Pretoria in February, thereby leaving South Africa faced with a sombre relegation playoff to Euro-Africa Group Two against either Ukraine (home) or Portugal (away).
Had Anderson played against the Israelis, there is little doubt South Africa would not be confronted by the present Davis Cup predicament.
While Anderson, despite his commendable achievements. culminating in reaching last year's US Open final before losing to – who else – Nadal, does not have a record to match that of the charismatic, multi Grand Slam-winner, in relative terms his Davis Cup presence might be even more important for South Africa, significantly in regaining a prestige World Group position.
This is in view of Spain's plethora of back-up talent – which South Africa does not possess.
So where do South Africa's Davis Cup prospects sit right now?
Whispers have circulated for some time of Anderson's imminent return to Davis Cup competition.
But, despite this, the wise sages are advising prospective punters to hedge their bets on this particular issue, in view of the past eventualities.