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By unknown | Nov 19, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

It will be a kind of homecoming for Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when he comes to South Africa to take part in the lucrative South African Tennis Open next February.

Tsonga, currently ranked seven in the world, was in South Africa yesterday for the launch of the SA Open that will be played at Montecasino in Johannesburg from February 2-8.

"I'm happy to be in the country and to me it is like home because my father was born in Congo and my mother in France," he said.

"I will be taking part in the SA Open because I would like to improve the sport, particularly from grassroots [level]. Africa is my continent too."

Other world acclaimed players who will be taking part in the Open will be David Ferrer from Spain and Marcos Baghdatis from Cyprus.

Tsonga has done remarkably well in recent weeks and qualified for the Masters Cup after winning the Paris Masters.

Ferrer recently slipped out of the world's top 10 and is now ranked at No 12. He did have a strenuous season and will no doubt be back to his fearsome self after a good year-end break.

Baghdatis reached the final of the Australian Open in 2006, only to lose to Roger Federer.

In 2003 Baghdatis was the best junior in the world.

South African Tennis Association chief executive Ian Smith said he was delighted they could announce a third major player for the tournament.

"Hopefully it does not end there as we are in negotiations with some other leading players and hope to make an announcement soon," Smith said.

SAA chief executive Khaya Ngqula said: "Today our dreams of having Tsonga in the country have come true.

"Our company is one of the sponsors of this event and we're delighted to be part of the SA Open."


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