SA face Davis Cup challenge away from home
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has confirmed that South Africa will play away from home when they face either Poland or Slovenia in the second round of next year’s Davis Cup Euro-Africa Group One competition.
The South Africans, who lost 4-1 against Canada last week in the World Group playoffs, were handed a first-round bye in their division when the draw was made on Wednesday.
“South Africa last played against both Slovenia and Poland in the Davis Cup in South Africa,” an ITF spokesman said on Thursday.
“So it will be their turn to travel this time.” This was in accordance with Davis Cup rules, the spokesman said, which allowed teams to play alternative home and away ties when they faced each other in the global men’s team competition.
Already faced with a guaranteed away tie, regardless of who they play in the second round of their group, South Africa are in for a tough challenge in trying to reach the World Group playoffs for the fifth year in succession.
With the country’s top-ranked player, Kevin Anderson, having made himself unavailable for most Davis Cup ties in the last few years, the next best prospects at this stage are veteran Rik de Voest and Izak van der Merwe, who are both rated well outside the top 150 in the world by the ATP.
Poland’s top players, Lukasz Kubot and Jerzy Janowicz, are ranked 76th and 85th respectively in the current world list.
Slovenia’s leading players are Grega Zemlja, in 69th position, Akljaz Bedene at 84th and Blaz Kavcic in 97th.
And while South Africa have beaten both Poland and Slovenia in South Africa in recent years, playing in Eastern Europe could prove a difficult prospect, with a possibly troublesome claycourt tie on the cards.