India’s task against South Africa in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs is likely to be scaled down if the latter’s no 1 player Kevin Anderson fails to show up.
The 6’8” tall player skipped the first two ties for South Africa this year and his participation against India, from September 18-20, is still under doubt.
“Kevin Anderson didn’t play this year due to his schedule and the fact that he wanted to get his ranking higher,” South Africa’s coach John-Laffnie de Jager told Hindustan Times. “I don’t know if he will play the tie. Still waiting to hear if he is available.”
Anderson, a former US-collegiate player, has slipped to 156 in rankings after being at a career high of 95 in June last year. Apart from focusing on his singles career, there is also talk that the 24-year-old is looking to play for USA. The International Tennis Federation rules state that a player must not have represented any other country for three years before switching nationalities.
However, despite missing the services of Anderson in the matches this year, South Africa came back unscathed with 5-0 victories over Belarus and Macedonia. By doing so, they also extended their streak to 10 victories on the trot.
Last week, South Africa chose the Ellison Park Indoor Arena in Johannesburg as the venue for the tie against India.
“We didn’t pick indoors, we just wanted to play at high altitude,” said de Jager. “We are used to playing at high altitude, but it is difficult for visiting teams to adapt. It will be a very tough tie for both teams. I think both teams couldn’t ask for a better opponent. This is much better than playing Brazil in Brazil,” he added.
While most teams go in against India with an obvious disadvantage in the doubles, with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi holding fort-the duo hasn’t let the point slip for 22 ties-de Jager believes his combo of Weslie Moodie and Jeff Coetzee can stand up to the challenge.
“They (Paes-Bhupathi) are a world class team, with a few Grand Slam titles to their name, but they don’t play together anymore so it does make a difference. We also have a solid team in Moodie /Coetzee that has been ranked as high as No. 5 with three wins last year against the Bryan brothers.”
Anderson’s unavailability may tip the scales in India’s favour, but with both teams vying for the World Group berth after an 11-year absence, it promises to be a close contest.
World No 216 Rik De Voest and 252nd ranked Izak Van der Merwe are likely to shoulder SA’s singles challenge.