Koubek to make amends

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

Austrian tennis player Stefan Koubek returns to South Africa to take part in the SAA Tennis Open at Selbourne Tennis Club in East London next month.

The Austrian player, favourite to win the event last year, succumbed to a bout of 'flu, losing to South Africa's Rik de Voest, but Koubek is determined to make amends in the R875000 tournament this year.

Koubek, who is ranked 68th in the world, will be part of a strong field which includes Thomas Johansson and Jonas Bjorrkman from Sweden, and South Africa's Wesley Moodie and the same De Voest.

Koubek said he felt good coming into this tournament and believes he will romp home with the title in the event that starts from February 12 to 17.

"Unfortunately I got sick and things did not work out as planned.

"This year I intend to put things right.

"I'm looking forward to playing in the tournament. South Africa is such a nice country and I always enjoy myself down there,'' added the 31-year-old Koubek.

The left-handed Austrian started the year well, despite losing in the first round at both tournaments in Doha and Sydney.

He fell to Ivan Ljubicic in Doha and former world number one Carlos Moya in Sydney but he managed to turn it all around at the Australian Open.

Koubek started well by avenging his loss to Moya in the opening round, beating the 16th seed Spaniard 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 and then went on to oust Agustin Calleri of Argentina 6-3, 7-6, 7-6. He suffered a five-set loss to 23rd seed Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.

Koubek had a pretty good year in 2007 and came away with wins over some top players.

He and Moya clashed twice last year with the Austrian winning both encounters.