ATP Tour

SA face tricky trip to Turkey

2015-03-03 20:00
Raven Klaasen (Getty Images)

Johannesburg - South Africa's already tricky undertaking in the away Euro Africa Group Two clash against Turkey this week become even more difficult with the striking rise in prominence of Turkish number one player Marsel Ilhan.

The big-serving Ilhan beat world number 12 Feliciano Lopez in the ATP's recent Dubai Open and, in the process, improved his world ranking 30 places to a respected 77th position.

South Africa's top singles player for the tie is Fritz Wolmarans, ranked a distant 427th in the world.

If Ilhan's apparent superiority enables him to win both his singles matches, South Africa would need to scoop the two remaining singles games as well as the doubles in which world 29th-ranked Raven Klaasen could prove a trump card.

And on Tuesday, in a conference call from Turkey, Klaasen declared that the South African squad were not over-awed by Ilhan's presence and were approaching the tie with a sense of determination and quiet confidence.

"The week has started off well for us with a good team spirit and great facilities," said Klaasen.

"The indoor hard court has a reasonable medium to fast paced surface, which is suiting the South African players.

"I feel I am in top shape for the doubles and realise it could prove the deciding factor. If we can remain level after the two singles matches on Friday, a doubles win will keep us well into the tie and give us the extra confidence we need going into Sunday's reverse singles."

Klaasen said the doubles had time and again been a big turning point in their Davis Cup ties.

"So I need to be 100 percent ready.

"I have been pleasantly surprised by the moderate temperature here as I expected it to be much colder and the facility where we are playing is spectacular."

Klaasen said team captain Earl Grainger had still to decide who would partner him in the doubles.

"We are still acclimatising and working on everyone's present form," he said.

"By Wednesday evening, we will have a better idea of who will be playing the singles and who will be playing the doubles with me.

"But all the South African's can play good doubles and Ruan Roelofse, Tucker Vorster and Fritz Wolmarans are all ready for whatever.

Klaasen said the South African side was well balanced and each player was capable of making a contribution.

"The Turkish team may have a star, but they are not as balanced as we are -- and if they call on their number one to play three rubbers, it could put a heavy physical and mental burden on his shoulders."

Read more on:    atp tour  |  davis cup  |  raven klaasen  |  johannesburg  |  tennis

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