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SA aces upbeat ahead of clash with Poland
- Updated: April 4, 2013
Despite an uncanny series of setbacks, the South African Davis Cup squad are 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 that gets underway in Zielona Gora on Friday, reports Sapa.
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 number one Kevin Anderson, and top 20-year-old prospect Nikala Scholtz, as well as the injured Izak van der Merwe and now Klaasen, and other high-ranked South Africans, De Jager said the new-look squad members were determined not to go down without a fight.
The under-pressure De Jager suggested he might be forced out of retirement to play in the doubles, but with three fit players still in harness, this would seem an unlikely scenario.
De Jager was also heartened by the timely return to form of the team’s top-ranked player, Rik 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, might well be 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 No515 Ruan Roelefse and 758th-ranked Jean Andersen.