Federer a possible SA opponent

2011-07-12 11:02

It could herald the biggest occasion in South African tennis in years should South Africa be paired with a Roger Federer-led Switzerland in tomorrow’s fateful Davis Cup World Group play-off draw.

This was the view of South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager in an interview yesterday from his Team Tennis base in the United States, to which he made an express departure following South Africa’s encouraging, Kevin Anderson-inspired 3-1 victory over the Netherlands on the week-end.

“Of course,” said De Jager, “should we draw Switzerland, the venue will only be decided by lots and an away tie against the likes of the Federer and the world’s 16th-ranked Stanislas Wawrinka could not be tougher.

“Nevertheless,” added the South African captain: “if it should emerge that we play Switzerland at home, it would provide so much interest and excitement, it would counteract the awesome task confronting our players.”

De Jager, however, said it was only hypothetical to dwell on Switzerland before tomorrow’s draw when South Africa could face any of the other seeded countries like Russia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Austria, India, Chile or Israel.

“One thing is pretty certain,” said the South African captain, “there is almost no chance of an easy or comfortable draw emerging.”

“A home tie would be great and could well be crucial,” he said.

De Jager said it would be a huge task to gain the victory which would propel the country into the World Group for the first time in more than a decade.

A match-up against Croatia, who can call on formidable players of the calibre of Ivan Ljubicic, Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic, with the venue also decided by lots, could also pose a task with more obstacles for South Africa than any tie except one against Switzerland.

Russia have the world’s 17th-ranked Mikhail Youzhny heading a formidable array of players; Austria boast the world’s ninth-ranked Juergen Meltzer; Chile have former world number five Fernando Gonzalez and the Czech Republic have a large pool of top-class players.

India beat South Africa in a World Group play-off in South Africa two years ago – and any South Africa-India play-off this time would take place in India in accordance with the Davis Cup rules.

Possibly South Africa’s most satisfying draw tomorrow would be a home tie against Israel – a nation who have produced wonders in recent years playing at home, but have yet to maintain a similar level in away matches.

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