‘I won’t pick Anderson,’ says SA Davis Cup captain

2009-08-13 00:00

THE South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager made it clear in a conference call on Tuesday that SA’s top singles tennis player, Kevin Anderson, has played himself out of contention for selection.

Non-playing captain De Jager made the statement after announcing the SA team to meet India in South Africa’s crucial World Group play-off tie at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena in Johannesburg from September 18 to 20.

Anderson has made himself unavailable for a number of important Davis Cup ties in the current SA campaign to regain a coveted place in the World Group, where the likes of Spain’s Rafael Nadal are so loyal to their country’s cause. Anderson has said he has personal goals he wants to achieve this year and Davis Cup is not one of them.

“It is very disappointing that Kevin is not available as we need him,” De Jager said. “I have to respect his decision, but should South Africa beat India and go into the 2010 World Group, I made it clear to Kevin I won’t pick him for the first tie at least.

“The SA Tennis Association have gone out of their way to help the players, so there is no reason for them not to be available,” said De Jager.

“It is unfair to those who are loyal to the team, have made sacrifices for the team, who have got us this far,” De Jager said, referring to Rik de Voest, Izak van der Merwe, Jeff Coetzee and Raven Klaasen in particular. Wesley Moodie returns after missing some recent ties.

The SA captain said Anderson has indicated he may be available next year, and the situation would be reviewed after the first tie in 2010.

Moodie and Coetzee, SA’s top doubles combination, fell out for a period and De Voest stepped in to join Coetzee in an unbeaten series of rubbers, but De Jager said both were happy to resume the partnership.

De Jager said Moodie is delighted to be in the team again and will be happy to cheer from the side if necessary. The captain said he might use Moodie in the singles as well.

De Voest and company enjoy playing at altitude and on as fast a hardcourt as possible. This will be an advantage against opponents who are happier on slower courts in hot, humid conditions.

SA Tennis CEO Ian Smith said the revamped Ellis Park Indoor Arena is taking shape fast and will be spectator friendly.

De Jager said India’s best doubles combination, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who are in the world’s top 10, have fallen out in a big way. “They don’t play together anymore and now they’ve got to form a bond as a team. I am confident Jeff and Wesley can beat them.”

The SA captain said India also have problems with the eligibility of their singles number two, Prakash Amritraj. India Tennis have said they will no longer pick players who don’t have an Indian passport. Amritraj has an American passport.

“The sooner our guys get back here to start preparing the better,” said De Jager. “Every day’s preparation at high altitude will help us.”

And the SA team’s close bond could be priceless against an Indian line-up that looks increasingly disjointed.

SA TEAM

Rik de Voest, Izak van der Merwe, Raven Klaasen, Wesley Moodie, Jeff Coetzee.

India (from): Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman, Vishnu Vardhan, Yuki Bhambri, Prakash Amritraj, Rohan Bopanna.

Tickets – at Computicket from Monday: R75 for Friday, R65 for Saturday and R75 for the final day.

Schedule – Friday, September 18: Opening singles matches (12 noon); Saturday: Doubles match (1:30 pm); Sunday: Reverse singles Matches (12 noon).

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