An interesting article on the upcoming DC tie against Georgia
Wesley Moodie returns to the South African Davis Cup team for their Euro/Africa Zone Group Two tie against Georgia from April 7 to 9.
Moodie opted not to play the tie against Morocco last year, which South Africa lost, but he will join Rik de Voest, Jeff Coetzee and new cap Izak van der Merwe in Tblisi, Georgia.
Van der Merwe has been at college in the US where he has produced some useful results. De Voest got into the main draw in Memphis last week when German Nicolas Kiefer was forced to withdraw and firstly scored a straight sets win over Swede Jonas Bjorkman, before losing a tight three-set match to new British star Andy Murray.
John-Laffnie de Jager, who will captain the team, said on Monday he was surprised by the decision of the Georgians to play the tie indoors on carpet. "Both Wesley and Rik are well suited to that surface. I thought they would have gone for clay but obviously we'll take it.
"It's great to have Wesley back in the team and in addition, Rik has been playing great tennis lately."
De Jager added that he had decided to give Van der Merwe a chance as he needed to assess the younger players. "We took Kevin Anderson to Morocco and I now know what he can do. Izak is a talented player and now it is time to see if he can step up to the next level."
Coetzee has been a regular in the team over the past few years and his doubles prowess has often helped the South Africans win the pivotal doubles rubber. He is likely to team up with Wimbledon champion Moodie in Tblisi.
In keeping with the South African Tennis Association's (Sata) policy of taking a junior along with the team, Eric Fisher from the Eastern Cape will be accompanying the team to Georgia.
Although currently ranked 151, Georgia's left-handed Irakli Labadze is a highly talented player who has been ranked as high as 42 in the world. He has scored wins over Andre Agassi, Gaston Gaudio, Carlos Moya, James Blake and Jarkko Nieminen. In 1998 he made the Junior Wimbledon final where he lost to current world number one Roger Federer.
Labadze also has a 12-1 win-loss Davis Cup record.
Irakli Ushangishvili is the most capped Davis Cup player while Lado Chikhladze and David Kvernadze have made up the balance of the team in the past.
Sata, who have battled to find a sponsor over the years, have managed to get support from South African Airways. "We are committed to sustain South African sport globally and to carry our sporting diplomats to the world," said SAA CEO Khaya Ngcqula.
SA team: Wesley Moodie (ranked 70 singles, 21 doubles) Rik de Voest (ranked 163 singles, 151 doubles), Jeff Coetzee (ranked 62 doubles), Izak van der Merwe (ranked 707 singles, 652 doubles).