Lisbon - Lloyd Harris will open the South African Davis Cup campaign against Portugal on Friday in the Euro African Group 1 play-off tie being played in Lisbon at the Club Internacional De Foot-Ball.
In the official draw conducted on Thursday afternoon In Lisbon’s cultural centre, the Centro Cultural de Belem, Italian ITF Tournament Referee Roberto Ranieri drew the name of Portuguese number two, Pedro Sousa from the hat first resulting in Harris opening procedures at noon on Friday.
Nik Scholtz will then follow Harris and pay the second singles rubber against Portuguese number one Joao Sousa.
Despite the Portuguese having home tie advantages, Ondruska said that the draw worked in the favour of South Africa. “It doesn’t really make a difference who goes out first but having Lloyd play the opening rubber is what I hoped for. Lloyd is playing some really good tennis and if he can win his opener on Friday it will put South Africa in a very good position. It will also allow for Lloyd to get some extra time for recovery before coming back to play the reverse singles on Saturday.”
Ondruska expected that there was going to be a good, high standard of tennis contested over the two days tie. “The Portuguese on paper have a higher ranked team but the South African Davis Cup team are ready for the challenge. “One never knows in Davis Cup. The rankings are quite frankly irrelevant when it comes to Davis Cup as we have seen in so many ties from the past where lower ranked players have upset the odds when playing for their country.”
Harris said he was up to the challenge. “I feel good going into the tie and really looking forward to getting out there first to get the team started. Obviously, the ideal would be getting the team to a winning start but I am not going to pressurize myself, I am playing good tennis and look forward to playing for my country.”
On Saturday procedures start at 10:30 with the doubles rubber, Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse will fly the South African flag against Joao Sousa and Gastao Elias of Portugal.
Klaasen said the new two-day format and playing the doubles first on the second day (Saturday) made things exciting. “With the doubles rubber being played first on the Saturday means that the tie will be alive, so the doubles point will be crucial to both teams and Ruan and I hope to continue our unbeaten Davis Cup winning streak on Saturday.”
The doubles rubber will be followed by the two reverse singles.
In the new format played over the two days instead of the old three-day format, each of the five rubbers will be played over the best of three sets.
The first team to win three rubbers will be declared the tie winner.
On Friday no changes to the nominations may be made by the captains, however, captains may make a change to their nominations up to one hour before the start of each rubber on Saturday.
SOUTH AFRICA: Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse, Philip Henning and captain Marcos Ondruska
PORTUGAL: Joao Sousa, Pedro Sousa, Gastao Elias, Joao Domingues and captain Nuno Marques
Order of Play
Friday, October 19
11:45 : Opening Ceremony
12:00 : Lloyd Harris (RSA) vs Pedro Sousa
Nik Scholtz vs Joao Sousa
Saturday, October 20
10:30 : Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) vs Joao Sousa/Gastao Elias (POR)
Lloyd Harris (RSA) vs Joao Sousa (POR)
Nik Scholtz (RSA) vs Pedro Sousa (POR)