Johannesburg, South Africa - Despite the recent loss of the Soweto Open, international tennis will continue at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre with the announcement that the first-ever Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Slovenia will be played at the Soweto venue.
The Euro/Africa Zone Group I encounter will take place from April 6 to 8. A victory here will put captain John-Laffnie de Jager and his team into the World Group play-offs for the fourth successive year.
This will be the second time South Africa have played a Davis Cup tie at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium. The other occasion was in 2009 against Belarus. If that contest is anything to go by, the venue has proved a happy hunting ground for the team as they beat Belarus 5-0. In addition, SA players Izak van der Merwe won the Soweto Open while Rik de Voest has been a runner-up at the event.
“The centre court at the Arthur Ashe Stadium has been good to Rik and Izak with Rik making the semis and finals of the Soweto Open and Izak making the finals and winning the title,” said De Jager. “We are happy to play at high altitude and hopefully the people of Soweto and the rest of Joburg and Gauteng will come and support us.”
The South Africa Tennis Association (SATA) has made it a lot easier for the public to attend the tie. “It is vital that tennis fans get behind the team and for that reason there will be no charge to come and watch the tie,” explained SATA CEO Ian Smith. “We will make it as easy as possible for people to get there and there will be safe parking available. Soweto is a popular tourist destination and coming to support the Davis Cup gives the public a chance of combining good tennis with a real special cultural and historic experience.”
“We have a team which has the capacity to win this tie and get us into the World Group. We sadly lost our last tie against Croatia but two of our key players – Kevin Anderson and Izak van der Merwe – were struggling with injuries and could not give of their best. However, now fit and well, I have complete faith that our boys can take us all the way.”
According to Davis Cup rules, two singles matches will be played on Friday April 6, the doubles rubber on Saturday April 7 and the reverse singles on Sunday April 8. All matches are played as the best of five sets until the tie has been decided.
Further details about the times, the team and the park-and-ride facilities will be announced at a later date.