SA set for Slovenia clash

2012-02-14 15:37

Johannesburg - The South African Davis Cup team is just one tie away from a World Group Playoff match later this year and the country standing in its path is Slovenia.

Slovenia took an unbeatable 3-0 lead in their tie against Denmark this weekend to set up the Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie against South Africa from April 6 to 8.

The tie will be played in South Africa at a venue yet to be decided.

"I am delighted we are playing at home again," said South African Tennis Association CEO Ian Smith.

"Our players thrive in front of their home crowd and with the removal of the SA Open from the ATP World Tour calendar, this gives the public a chance to see our top players in action on home soil again.

"Depending at which venue we choose - we must consider our best chances at high or low altitude as well as budgetary constraints - it is also again an opportunity to expose top flight tennis to our young up-and-coming players including our aspiring development kids from the previously disadvantaged communities."

South Africa had a first-round bye and a victory over Slovenia would put captain John-Laffnie de Jager and his team into another World Group playoff from September 14 to 16.

While Slovenia do not have any well-known players, they do have three in the top 200 and, as Denmark found out to their detriment, Grega Zemlja and Blaz Kavcic turned out to be a two-man demolition team.

The pair are ranked at 111 and 112 respectively, although six months ago Kavcic was as high as 72.

Their third player is Aljaz Bedene, ranked 168.

Slovenia has reached the Europe/Africa Zone Group I three times, in 1995, 2001 and 2011. Prior to 1993, Slovenian players competed for Yugoslavia.

"It is great that we can play in South Africa again," said De Jager.

"It always gives us an edge and it is also good for the tennis fans in SA to see world class tennis in their backyard. I expect to have a full strength team to play in April."

This will be the first ever tie between South Africa and Slovenia.

South Africa's No 1, Kevin Anderson, recently dropped from 30 to 37 in the world, as the points he gained by winning last year's SA Open came off in the first week of February.

Rik de Voest is 125, moving closer to his career high of 110 achieved in 2006. He qualified for this week's event in Rotterdam and a good run there could see him climb even further.

Izak van der Merwe is at 138 and reached the semi-final of the Dallas Challenger last week, still behind his best of 113 which he achieved last year.

Van der Merwe was in the main draw of the tournament in San Jose this week but was defeated 6-3, 6-3 by Tobias Kamke of Germany in the opening round.

In the same tournament, fifth-seeded Anderson came from a set down to beat Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3) in the first round on Monday.