Harris first out in SA's crucial Davis Cup tie
Lloyd Harris will open South Africa’s account when they take on Portugal in a crucial Davis Cup Euro-Africa 1 relegation clash in Lisbon on starting on Friday.
The loser of this tie will fall out of the group‚ which would mean a potentially long climb back to the Davis Cup finals.
SA No 1 and world-ranked No 8 Kevin Anderson was not available for this tie‚ which means that Harris is the highest-ranked SA player in team.
Harris‚ ranked 112 in the world‚ was drawn to play Portugal’s No 2 Pedro Sousa in the opening match of the tie at the Club Internacional De Foot-Ball.
Nik Scholtz will then follow Harris and pay the second singles rubber against Portuguese No 1 Joao Sousa.
“It doesn’t really make a difference who goes out first but having Lloyd play the opening rubber is what I hoped for‚” SA captain Marcos Ondruska said.
“Lloyd is playing some really good tennis and if he can win his opener on Friday it will put South Africa in a very good position. It will also allow for Lloyd to get some extra time for recovery before coming back to play the reverse singles on Saturday.”
“The Portuguese‚ on paper‚ have a higher-ranked team but the South African Davis Cup team are ready for the challenge.
“One never knows in Davis Cup. The rankings are quite frankly irrelevant when it comes to Davis Cup as we have seen in so many ties from the past where lower-ranked players have upset the odds when playing for their country.”
Harris said he was up to the challenge.
“I feel good going into the tie and really looking forward to getting out there first to get the team started.
“Obviously‚ the ideal would be getting the team to a winning start but I am not going to pressurise myself‚ I am playing good tennis and look forward to playing for my country‚” he said.
On Saturday the doubles comes into focus where Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse will fly the South African flag against Joao Sousa and Gastao Elias of Portugal.
Klaasen said the new two-day format and playing the doubles first on the second day (Saturday) made things exciting.
“With the doubles rubber being played first on the Saturday means that the tie will be alive‚ so the doubles point will be crucial to both teams and Ruan and I hope to continue our unbeaten Davis Cup winning streak on Saturday‚” he said.