Slovenia No 1 not named for opening day
In a surprise move, Slovenia have not named their No 1 player, Grega Zemlja (ranked 74 in the world) in their singles line up for this weekend’s crucial Davis Cup tie against South Africa.
The veteran South African Davis Cup star Rik De Voest will get South Africa's weekend campaign under way against Slovenia at the Park Tivoli Tennis Complex in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Friday.
De Voest will play Slovenian No 2 Blaz Rola in the opening rubber. This will be the first time that the two players will square off against each other.
This will be the 41st time that 33 year old De Voest will step onto court in the green and gold.
The draw for the first round Group One Europe/Africa playoff tie was made at the historic City Hall in Ljubljana on Thursday and De Voest's name was drawn for the first singles rubber.
In the past De Voest has spoken about the importance of playing Davis Cup for his country and even though he is a veteran at representing his country each and every tie holds an important part in his heart.
“I am a bit surprised that the Slovenia No 1 is not playing singles, but regardless I am looking forward to starting procedures off for my country and hopefully giving South Africa that all important lead after the first rubber,” said De Voest.
The absence of Kevin Anderson and Izak Van Der Merwe has somewhat weakened the South African line-up but captain John-Laffnie De Jager and his team remain upbeat about their chances away from home this weekend.
De Jager named Ruan Roelofse as his second singles player. Roelofse made his first Davis Cup appearance against Slovenia last year in Soweto where South Africa triumphed 4-1.
Roelofse will be up next on Friday in the second rubber against Slovenian’s Blaz Kavcic, ranked 105, in the world.
"I am very excited to be playing for South Africa again,” said Roelofse. “I am truly honoured to play for my country. I feel confident on the clay and am ready to give of my best.”
SA's non-playing captain John-Laffnie de Jager said after a week's training he felt Roelofse was the best option as the No 2.
"I've came to the decision because Roelofse has been playing well in recent months, and then at training this week on the clay he was really impressive," said De Jager. " I have confidence that he'll do the business."
As expected, Klaasen has been consigned to doubles duty and will partner Ruan Roelofse.
"I see this as an opportunity to nail down the tie in the doubles match on Saturday," said Klaasen. "Hopefully by the time we play the doubles South Africa will be leading so that we can sew up the result before the start of Sunday's reverse singles."
De Jager said like De Voest he was surprised that Zemlja was not picked for the singles.
“To not play your highest world ranked player on the opening day was a surprise. Apparently Zemlja is injured and that’s maybe why the Slovenian captain opted not to play him. Regardless, my team are ready and upbeat and will no doubt do their country proud this weekend.”
THE PLAYING PROGRAMME:
Friday singles (start 11am): Rik De Voest (RSA) v Blaz Rola (SLO) followed by Ruan Roelofse (RSA) v Blaz Kavcic (SLO)
Saturday doubles (start 2pm): Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Ruan Roelofse (RSA) v Janez Semrajc (SLO) and Grega Zemja (SLO).
Sunday reverse singles (11am): Rik De Voest (RSA) v Blaz Kavcic (SLO), Ruan Roelofse (RSA) v Blaz Rola (SLO).
South Africa: Rik De Voest, Ruan Roelofse; Raven Klaasen and Nikala Scholtz.
Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager.
Slovenia: Blaz Kavcic, Blaz Rola and Grega Zemlja and Janez Semrajc.
Captain: Blaz Trupej.