Davis Cup boost for SA?
Johannesburg - South African Davis Cup veteran Rik de Voest says that the Croatian team is likely to be without Ivan Ljubicic for their World Group playoff against Croatia in Potchefstroom from September 16 to 18.
De Voest revealed in a conference call on Wednesday, it would be unlikely that the No 31 ranked in the ATP rankings would make the Croatian team. De Voest said when he spoke to Ljubicic recently he said he would not be making the trip to South Africa.
"He hasn't played too many Davis Cup ties recently and has concentrated more on his individual career, and this might be the reason he won't be playing. He told me he won't be playing, but it remains to be seen when they name the squad. But from what I heard when I spoke to him he said he wasn't going to be coming," De Voest said.
The Croatian federation said they are having a few problems with some of their players and would only announce their team 10 days before the tie on September 7.
After bitterly cold weather for their tie against the Netherlands in early July, De Voest also said playing in the warmer Potchefstroom conditions would be critical to the outcome of the tie.
"When we played against the Netherlands it was very cold, with the heat it will be bouncing a lot more, which will suit us better and hopefully we can use that to our advantage."
This time round, the SA team will have the high-altitude conditions more to their liking with much of the responsibility lying with big serving Kevin Anderson.
"We will just try and recall what works for us, we obviously know the setup very well and how the facilities are. Every tie is different though, we're playing Croatia with different players and we will have a strategy on how to play them.
"John-Laffnie (de Jager) is in now in New York and he'll probably be scouting their players there too. We'll hopefully take the confidence from the previous tie and take that forward.”
De Voest said playing in Potch brought back good feelings.
"If you look at a lot of players, wherever they do well at a tournament they like to go back there. It will be the same with the Davis Cup tie, and if you have done well at a certain place you will be keen to go back there.
"I think we've had a lot of success in South Africa at high altitude in Davis Cup competition so we try to go back to where we have done well.
"If you look at countries that have won the Davis Cup, they've also played at venues where they've had repeat wins. You know where players have enjoyed it, and where that has seemed to suit their players style of play," he said.
While who will be selected to play singles and doubles for the home team will only be announced by captain De Jager on September 16, it will be a very different scenario to the Dutch tie.
De Voest has been struggling with a hand injury, and was out for three weeks and only managed to play one match before the US Open.
Izak van der Merwe should play a bigger role, as it was revealed after the Dutch tie that he was struggling with back problems and now is fully fit and in good form.
Raven Klaasen will make a return to the team after more than a year after the retirement of doubles specialist Wesley Moodie. The only constant has been the form of Anderson who is continuing on his march towards breaking into the top 20 in the singles rankings.