LINCHPIN: Rik de Voest in action. De Voest, South Africa’s top-ranked player, is 155 places behind Canada’s world No15 Milos Raonic. Picture: SOWETAN
LINCHPIN: Rik de Voest in action. De Voest, South Africa’s top-ranked player, is 155 places behind Canada’s world No15 Milos Raonic. Picture: SOWETAN

SOUTH Africa plan to cause a major upset when they face Canada in their tennis World Group play-off fixture in Montreal, starting on Friday.

The team, represented by Rik de Voest, Izak van der Merwe, Raven Klaasen and debutant Nikala Scholtz, will be fighting for a spot in the top 16 and must win the tie to progress to the World Group of next year’s Davis Cup.

South Africa have not made it back to the top tier since 1998 and in the past three years have seen defeats against India, Germany and Croatia.

"We are going for a win and are highly confident," Klaasen said on Wednesday. "We’ve always been one match away from securing a spot in the top 16 and are now hopeful for better results this weekend.

"This is a great platform to cause major upsets and we have no doubt … that we will execute our game plan on the weekend and bring it (the cup) back to South Africa.

"Our game plan for the doubles on Saturday is centred on Daniel Nestor, in a possible partnership with Vasek Pospisil."

South Africa forfeited home-ground advantage earlier this year, citing financial reasons, and hosts Canada opted to play on a hard court, which suits both the teams.

"The hard-court surface is similar to the one used at the US Open and we have all played on it," Van der Merwe said. "We grew up playing on a hard court, all our preparation is on hard court and after two days here in Canada we were familiar with the court and are very comfortable.

"The only challenge will be playing at sea level as we would have preferred to play at altitude."

Canada will field a strong line-up for the clash. The team led by Martin Laurendeau includes Nestor, Pospisil, Frank Dancevic and Milos Raonic. Raonic is the highest-ranked Canadian singles player at No15 in the ATP men’s singles rankings — 155 spots ahead of South Africa’s top-ranked De Voest. Doubles specialist Nestor is the current record holder in the Davis Cup for most wins (44), most doubles wins (29) and most ties played (41).

All the Davis Cup matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Meanwhile, Sam Querrey will launch the US fight to upset holders Spain on their home red clay in the opening Davis Cup semifinal duel against world No5 David Ferrer in Gijon on Friday.

Querrey’s giant-slaying team-mate, John Isner, faces Nicolas Almagro in the second rubber of the tie as five-time champions Spain aim to reach their second Davis Cup final in a row.

On Saturday American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-ranked doubles players in the world, face Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, before the return singles ties on Sunday, according to the draw made in Gijon, northern Spain, on Thursday.

Sapa-AFP