In-form Dan Cox heads to South Africa for lucrative $100,000 tournament
RISING tennis star Dan Cox has moved up to a higher level as he prepares to compete in his richest tournament of the season so far.
The Lincoln-born player continues to climb up the world rankings and his recent progress has brought an opportunity to travel to South Africa for a $100,000 Challenger tournament in Johannesburg next month.
The trip has been made possible after the British number three scored more ranking points this week to take him higher in the world list.
His new position, in the 270s, is sufficiently high for him to receive hospitality payments from the tournament organisers in Johannesburg to cover his hotel bill.
Cox gleaned his ranking points earlier this week at Bath University, where he was taking part in a $42,000 Challenger event.
The bigger prize money on offer brought with it tougher competition with some famous names on show.
Seeded number one at Bath was Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, but, having received a wild card entry into the main draw, Cox first had to get past fellow Brit and good friend Josh Milton in the first round.
"I played my first match against Josh (Milton) and it was a tough one because he had beaten me in China at the start of the year," said Cox.
"But I really feel I have stepped up a level over the last four or five weeks and this time I was better than him.
"I started the game really strong and put him under pressure straight away. I just kept him down really and eventually won the match 6-3, 6-4.
"My problem came in the second round when I met Dmitry Tursunov from Russia. He is ranked about 100 at the moment but has been up as high as 20 in the world and has beaten Tim Henman before. He also the reached the fourth round of Wimbledon one year.
"He is still capable of playing that level of tennis but I did okay against him. I lost the game 6-3, 6-4, but it earned me enough points to move up from 290 in the world to the 270s."
"I started the game well and won the first two games. But he hits the ball so hard, probably one of the hardest hitters on the tour. It was a great experience. I need to keep playing at this level and competing against guys like this."
Cox will have this weekend off before travelling back to London on Monday to resume his training.
The Johannesburg event gets underway on April 11 and will bring another opportunity for 20-year-old Cox to work on his target for this season – moving up to 250 in the world – a position which could seal him a place at Wimbledon this summer.
"It is a bigger tournament with higher ranked players and, again, it will be tough," he added.
"But one good thing about the South Africa event is, due to my ranking being higher, I will be getting hospitality which means I will not have to pay for my hotel in Johannesburg."