Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
31 Jan 2014
6:00 am

Monaco there for the taking

Wesley Botton

Defeat is not an option, according to South African Davis Cup captain John Laffnie de Jager, in his team's Euro-Africa Group II tie against minnows Monaco starting in Centurion today.

FILE PICTURE: John-Laffnie de Jager. Photo by Reg Caldecott / Gallo Images

South Africa are 25 places above the visitors in the Davis Cup rankings, and De Jager expects them to sweep aside the opposition as they start their season-long campaign to regain their place in Group I of the international team competition.

“Every match is important, and we obviously know what is expected of us, so we will make sure all our boxes are ticked,” De Jager said yesterday.

“It’s a very important tie because we want to go forwards, not backwards, and we have to win this. That’s the bottom line.”

De Jager opted for versatility over experience yesterday when he named his four-man team for the tie, selecting Ruan Roelofse ahead of recently injured Izak van der Merwe as a partner for Raven Klaasen in tomorrow’s doubles clash.

Veteran Rik de Voest and rising star Nik Scholtz will turn out in today’s singles matches.

“I decided we needed an extra singles guy, in case something happens and we need someone for the return singles on Sunday,” De Jager said.

“Izak is ready for the doubles match, but he is not ready yet to play a five-set singles rubber, and I decided it was best for the team to have the additional singles option.”

Monaco’s top player, Benjamin Balleret, insisted they were confident of securing a maiden victory over their fancied hosts.

“The most important thing in Davis Cup is team spirit,” Balleret said.

“If we can stick together for the next three days, we know we can beat anyone.”