(PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA) – Canada has named its strongest possible team for a Davis Cup clash against South Africa at the Uniprix Stadium in Montreal. The tie will be played from 14 to 16 September.
Captain Martin Laurendeau’s line-up for the tie, to be played outdoors on a hard court, includes Milos Raonic, Frank Dancevic, Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
South Africa will be without the country’s leading singles player, Kevin Anderson. Izak van der Merwe, Rik de Voest, Raven Klaasen and debutant Nikala Scholtz will do duty under captain John-Laffnie de Jager.
The tie will mark the second Davis Cup meeting between Canada and South Africa. The only other encounter was played 99 years ago, in 1913, with the Canadians taking victory. The winning nation in Montreal will qualify for the World Group in 2013, while the losing nation will be retrograded to its respective zonal group.
"This tie is extremely important. We have the chance to remain in the elite World Group, so we have to make the most of this opportunity," said Canadian captain Laurendeau. "Our team learned a lot from our loss to France in February. We are very excited about taking on South Africa, especially since we once again have the advantage of playing in front of our fans. We could not believe that a tennis nation with such strong tennis traditions like South Africa would give up a home tie," Laurendeau added.
"It was a welcome bonus, and now that Kevin Anderson has been confirmed as not being part of the South African outfit, we feel real confident that we can beat the visitors and remain in the World Group and move upwards and onwards. We have made sure the conditions suit us, and that’s first and foremost," Laurendeau said. "The court we have chosen is similar to that of the US Open and the hard court surfaces leading into New York. It made sense to stick to the surface our players have been playing on for the past few weeks."
Laurendeau said that the Canadian team was the "best we have had for years" and that "no team in the world would sleep well" when facing it. But he said that Canada respected South Africa and said even though they were without Kevin Anderson they were a "tricky side" that played with lots of "heart and soul", and he expected South Africa, as they always do, to put in a real great effort.
"South Africa are traditionally aggressive players, whether it’s at the net or on the baseline. I think Canada play a similar game, but our advantage is we are playing at home and we have more depth than our opponents," reckoned Laurendeau.
Raonic, who is currently ranked 16th in the world, is the highest ranked Canadian male singles player of all-time. He made the fourth round of the US Open, which is currently being played in New York, before being beaten by Olympic champion Andy Murray.
The big serving Raonic has won two ATP World Tour titles this season, bringing his career total to three. He earned Canada’s only point in their World Group first round tie against France in Vancouver in February by defeating Julien Benneateau.
Dancevic has been part of Canada’s Davis Cup team every year since 2002, except in 2008 when he was hampered by a back injury. He holds an impressive 11-4 record in Davis Cup matches played on home soil.
Nestor holds the record for most years played by a Canadian in the Davis Cup at 19. He also holds the record for most wins (44), most doubles wins (29) and most ties played (41). He is currently ranked the no. 1 ranked doubles player in the world. His results in 2012 include winning the French Open for a third consecutive year.
Nestor also holds a career Golden Slam of all four Grand Slam trophies and an Olympic gold medal.
Pospisil was the only member of Canada’s Davis Cup team to compete at all three ties in 2011. He was the hero of their World Group play-off win over Israel, capturing both of his singles matches and the doubles match with Nestor to advance Canada back to the World Group.