JOHANNESBURG - Charismatic SA Open champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will not defend his title in the R25million ATP tournament at the Montecasino Entertainment Resort in Johannesburg in February.
The disappointing non-appearance of the world's 10th-ranked Frenchman was confirmed yesterday by SA Tennis Association chief executive and tournament director Ian Smith.
To off-set this, the SA Open has secured the services of an equally talented and magnetic French player in the world's 13th-ranked Gael Monfils, as well as the 17th-ranked Spaniard, David Ferrer, who was the hero of Spain's Davis Cup Final victory over The Czech Republic earlier this month.
"These two are top drawcards in their own right," said Smith, "and we are still hoping for a couple more big-name players before the entries close on Tuesday (tomorrow).
"And, as a minimum," said the Sata boss, "we are expecting an entry that will at least match that of the highly successful South African Open this year when the tournament was restored on the international ATP circuit for the first time in more than a decade."
The top 24 world-ranked entries for the South African Open will automatically be granted places into the 32-man singles draw, with four places coming from a pre-tournament qualifying event and a further four wild card acceptances. - Sapa