South Africa’s Davis Cup team will face Venezuela in an away tie in the World Group II in September after the two nations were drawn against one another at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) headquarters in London, United Kingdom, on Friday.
The tie will be played on either Friday, 18 and Saturday, 19 September or Saturday, 19 and Sunday, 20 September in Venezuela.
The ITF announced earlier this week that the Fed Cup finals and playoffs, due to take place next month, had been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with all ITF circuit events also postponed until at least 20 April.
Preparations for September’s World Group I and World Group II ties will continue as normal and the ITF will continue to monitor the situation.
Team South Africa were relegated from World Group I playoffs last weekend, following their loss away to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It will be the first time the two nations will clash in a Davis Cup tie, but the South Africans will go into the tie as favourites considering Venezuela don’t have any players in the top 100 ATP World rankings.
South African team captain Marcos Ondruska admitted that away ties are always tricky, but he is confident.
“This should be interesting. Given that it’s right after US Open. Seems like everyone should be on this time zone, which certainly makes things easier.
“There is a chance that we might not play in Venezuela given the political climate. that could be interesting.
“Again, playing away is always tricky as the court and ball make-up is generally made to opponent’s specs, so you’re having to beat opponents on their best surfaces ... not an easy task but I am confident,” commented Ondruska.
Venezuela’s current top three singles players includes Ricardo Rodriguez-Pace (world No 514), Jordi Munoz-Abreu (1 236th) and Brandon Perez (tied 1 677th) who are likely to represent their country. Their top two doubles players include Luis David Martinez and Roberto Maytin who are ranked 113th and 144th in the ATP rankings, respectively.
Last year, the ITF introduced a global format for Davis Cup in Groups I and II, enabling more nations to compete on a worldwide basis and against opponents they have not faced under the previous regional structure of the competition.
The 24 nations in World Group II comprise of the 12 losing nations from last weekend’s World Group I Playoffs and the 12 winning nations from last weekend’s World Group II Playoffs.
Winners of World Group II ties will contest the World Group I Playoffs next year. Losers of World Group II ties will contest the World Group II Playoffs next year, along with the nations that advance from regional Group III events.
The format will remain unchanged from the trials introduced in 2018, with ties being made up of four singles rubbers and one doubles rubber contested over two days.