De Voest geared up for tie
Johannesburg - Rik de Voest hopes to carry his fine form into South Africa's Euro/Africa Group 1 Davis Cup tie against the Netherlands in Potchefstroom this week.
De Voest, fresh off advancing to the second round of Wimbledon, and leaping 18 places in the ATP world rankings, will head into the tie as South Africa's most experienced player.
He boasts a record of 34 matches in Davis Cup ties with 23 wins and 11 losses.
"I've always been proud to be South African and to play Davis Cup," De Voest said.
"Ever since I was a kid it's been a dream for me.
"I enjoy the team format and I play some of my best tennis for my country."
De Voest travelled straight from Wimbledon, where he played in the main singles draw for the third time, to an ATP Challenger event in Chicago, Illinois last week in an effort to lift his ranking further.
He reached the semifinals in Chicago, where he lost to American James Blake, and the 31-year-old climbed 18 places to 129 in the latest ATP rankings released on Monday.
"It's a tough schedule, but I felt because I was playing good tennis I tried to continue it and earn as many rankings points as I could," De Voest said.
"I'm also going to be taking a bit of time off after the Davis Cup so I just wanted to get in as much tennis as I could leading up to it."
De Voest said he was pleased with his run of form this season.
He reached the quarter-finals of the SA Open, an ATP 250 event, in Johannesburg in January, was knocked out by world No 1 Rafael Nadal in the second round of the Masters 1000 event in California in March, and lost to countryman Izak van der Merwe in the final of the Soweto Open, a Challenger event, in April.
"I've been kind of surprising myself this year with my results and it's nice to be playing well again and putting some good performances together," he said.
De Voest hoped to build on his form and continue his climb up the rankings.
"Having just turned 31, for most players you're heading towards the end of your career, so it's been refreshing for me to be playing my best tennis now," he said.
"I'm just trying to get my ranking up. For me the most important thing, being a bit older, is to stay healthy and have more emphasis on preparation and training.
"It follows that when I'm healthy I play my best tennis, so as long as I'm healthy I can stay motivated."
Heading into the Davis Cup tie, set to start on Friday, De Voest believed non-playing captain John-Laffnie De Jager would need to make some difficult choices.
Apart from the experienced De Voest, SA No 1 Kevin Anderson and Soweto Open champion Izak van der Merwe were also in the mix for the singles matches.
"Our captain faces some pretty tough decisions," De Voest said.
"Kevin and Izak are number one in terms of singles rankings and they could be playing the singles.
"But there is also the possibility with my experience and my good results in Davis Cup that I could play.
"Playing so many matches is taxing on the body, and that's why we get ourselves into good condition, but If I'm called on I'll be up for it."
De Voest was confident of South Africa's chances in the tie, with the hosts at full strength for the first time in three years following the return of Anderson.
"The Netherlands are a good team and it's going to be a tough match," he said.
"I think both teams are pretty well balanced. Having Kevin back in our team means we're at full strength.
"At altitude Kevin, Izaak and myself have done well recently, in particular at the SA Open.
"Davis Cup competition brings out the best in most players and their number one, Robin Haase, has done really well in the past.
"He's a very good player under pressure, especially for his country.
"I think it's going to be a great tie all round."
For gorgeous gifts at gorgeous prices, click here for the ultimate Christmas gift guide from Clicks.