ATP Tour

A tricky Davis Cup test for South Africa in scenic Zenica

Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse (Reg Caldecott)
Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse (Reg Caldecott)

Although their opponents may not be rated among the array of more feared and formidable European nations in the tradition-steeped competition, South Africa face a tricky and far-reaching Davis Cup test that gets underway against Bosnia and Herzegovina in scenic Zenica on Friday.

If anything is proof of this realisation it is the foreboding fact that 30-year-old South African No 2 singles player, Ruan Roelofse, who faces Bosnian No 1, Damir Dzumhur, in the critical opening match of the tie is more of a doubles specialist and boasts a world singles ranking no higher than 611th.

The 27-year-old Dzumhur, for his part, is currently ranked 107th in the world and has been elevated to a respected, career-best 23rd position at one stage, making Bosnia the favourites to take a significant early lead in the five-match encounter of four singles and one doubles match on the indoor, hard court surface.

Should Roelofse upset the form book, however, South Africa would be invitingly and dramatically placed to continue a quest to qualify for the 24-nation, finals of the Davis Cup and restore what was at one time a position among the leading nations in the recently revamped event.

Dzumhur, however, has the reputation of being a tough, never-say-die customer - almost from birth one might say as he was born at a Sarajevo hospital in 1992, with the area destroyed almost immediately afterwards following the outbreak of the Bosnia War.

With South African No 1, Lloyd Harris, who is ranked 98th in the world, in a position to beat Bosnian No 2, Mirza Basic, who has a 303rd world ranking, via his booming service-based game, the outcome of the delicately-balanced encounter could be decided in the doubles - and here South Africa appear to have an apparent advantage with the evergreen world No 12, Raven Klaasen, and Roelofse having proved themselves able to hold their own with almost any opponents.

But even with a doubles victory, South Africa could conceivably still need to avoid defeat in the two reverse singles - where an intriguing match-up between Harris and Dzumhur looms as a highlight of the entire Zenica Stadium battle.

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