ATP Tour

SA Davis Cup players upbeat

2013-04-04 10:05
John-Laffnie de Jager (File)

Johannesburg - Despite an uncanny series of setbacks, the South African Davis Cup squad is boosted by ideal conditions and "in the right frame of mind" for this week's challenging tie, according to captain John-Laffnie de Jager.

The South Africans are up against a formidable Polish combination in their vital Euro-Africa Group One encounter which gets underway in Zielona Góra on Friday.

De Jager, however, must have wondered whether his squad was not jinxed when doubles specialist Raven Klassen joined the growing list of injured and unavailable players on Wednesday after breaking a thumb in practice. He was expected to be out of tennis for five weeks.

Although long-shot underdogs without unavailable SA No 1 Kevin Anderson, and top 20-year-old prospect Nikala Scholtz, as well as the injured Izak van der Merwe and now Klaasen, De Jager said the new-look squad members were determined not to go down without a fight.

"I have confidence in my team," he said.

"They are well prepared and ready, also for the doubles rubber on Saturday."

The under-pressure De Jager had suggested he might be forced out of retirement to play in the doubles, but he was not included in the team in Thursday's draw.

He named veteran Rik de Voest and Jean Andersen as his No 1 and two singles players.

Andersen was set to face world No 24 Jerzy Janowicz on the opening day, and De Voest was due to square up against Lukasz Kubot.

De Jager named De Voest and Ruan Roelofse as his doubles combination.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of the draw," De Jager said.

"Jean is prepared for this match. He knows what he has to do on the court. For a youngster like him it's even better to play the opening rubber and not wait and wonder whether he is going to start being 1-0 up or the other way round.

"Also, we've got a very good record of Davis Cup ties with Rik de Voest playing the second rubber, so the draw is good for us."

With all the hurdles they faced in the build-up, De Jager was heartened by the timely return to form of the team's top-ranked player, De Voest, after his global rating had dropped below the 300-mark following an injury towards the tail-end of last year.

"Rik won an ATP Challenger tournament in Canada last week and his ranking is already down to 227 and moving steadily in the right direction," De Jager said.

"He also reached the last qualifying round of the recent Miami Masters event and went through an unbeaten run of 13 matches in Challenger events.

"He's playing as well as I have seen him in a number of years."

The South African captain would have preferred not to over-tax De Voest by including him in the doubles pairing. But now with Klaasen out of the picture, De Voest, a player who has achieved some notable doubles successes in previous Davis Cup ties, has been forced into a dual role.

De Jager said the hardcourts at the modernised Centrum Rekrean Stadium were on the fast side and this suited all the South African players, including world No 515 Roelefse and 758th-ranked Andersen.

The draw is as follows:

Friday: (Singles)

Jerzy Janowicz v Jean Andersen
Lukasz Kubot v Rik de Voest

Saturday: (Doubles)

Fyrstenberg/Matkowski v Roelofse/De Voest

Sunday: (Reverse singles)

Jerzy Janowicz v Rik de Voest
Lukasz Kubot v Jean Andersen

Read more on:    davis cup  |  john-laffnie de jager  |  tennis

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