Johannesburg - South Africa were dealt a massive
blow on the eve of their Davis Cup tie against Canada when the team's
top-ranked player, Rik de Voest, pulled out with a wrist injury.
De Voest's absence, Tennis SA said Izak van der Merwe would lead a
three-man team in the World Group playoff starting in Montreal on
Former doubles specialist John Laffnie de Jager, 39, usually a non-playing captain, would act as cover if needed.
the tourists already missing SA number one Kevin Anderson, who did not
make himself available for the tie, Canada's non-playing captain, Martin
Laurendeau, insisted the hosts were expecting a challenge.
der Merwe is ranked 173 places below Canadian number one Milos Raonic,
while SA the team's doubles specialist, Raven Klaasen, is 65 positions
behind world number three Daniel Nestor in the ATP doubles rankings.
unfortunate that South Africa will be without their top two players,
but it doesn't change our approach to this weekend's tie," Laurendeau
said after the draw on Thursday.
"Their team can play and we are preparing for a tough battle.
"We've had a good week of training and our team is looking forward to a great weekend of tennis."
der Merwe would face Vasek Pospisil in the first singles match of the
tie, it was announced at the draw, with debutant Nikala Scholtz up
against world number 15 Raonic.
Van der Merwe was set to pair up
with Klaasen for their doubles rubber against Nestor and Pospisil on
Saturday, with the reverse singles on Sunday.
Davis Cup draw, SA v
Friday: Singles: Izak van der Merwe (RSA) v Vasek Pospisil
(Can); Nikala Scholtz (RSA) v Milos Raonic (Can).
Doubles: Raven Klaasen/Van der Merwe (RSA) v Daniel Nestor/Pospisil
(Can). Sunday: Reverse singles: Van der Merwe (RSA) v Raonic (Can);
Scholtz (RSA) v Pospisil (Can).