SA ready after injury scare
John-Laffnie de Jager (File)
Johannesburg - South Africa's Davis Cup tennis team have recovered from a scare after a freak accident in which Rik De Voest injured his hand while running into the scoreboard at the Farmer's Classic in Los Angeles last month.
John-Laffnie de Jager, South Africa's non-playing captain, said on Monday he was confident that De Voest would be fit to play in next month's crucial Davis Cup World Group playoff against Croatia in Potchefstroom.
"Coming in the wake of Wesley Moodie's recent retirement, you can imagine the concern we experienced," De Jager said.
"Blood was gushing from Rik's hand after he attempted to retrieve a wide ball and crashed into the scoreboard.
"Fortunately, an examination revealed no broken bones, and although his hand is still giving him some pain, Rik will be playing in the qualifying rounds of the US Open this week along with Davis Cup team-mate Izak van der Merwe."
Doubles specialist Moodie announced his retirement last week, but De Jager believed he had "all the bases covered" with South African No 1 Kevin Anderson, De Voest and Izak van der Merwe in the squad.
"Kevin and Rik did a great job in playing both singles and doubles when Wesley dropped out of the recent Davis Cup playoff against the Netherlands," he said.
"They appear an ideal combination for the doubles again."
De Jager said that, while Anderson, De Voest and Van der Merwe would probably be called up for action against the formidable Croatian squad, he intended including a fourth player as a replacement for Moodie to act as a standby - almost certain to be either Raven Klaasen or Fritz Wolmarans, based on the latest ATP world rankings.
The South African captain's main concern right now might be in deciding whether to choose De Voest or Van der Merwe along with Anderson for the singles against Croatia.
De Voest has vaulted ahead of Van der Merwe in the world rankings and is now the second-ranked South African behind Anderson.
De Jager may be tempted to introduce the big-serving Van der Merwe to counter the serving power of Croatia's Marin Cilic and and Ivan Ljubicic - both rated among the top 30 players in the world.