High-flying Harris helps SA beat Venezuela in Davis Cup

South Africa will now automatically progress to the 2022 World Group I promotion play-offs along with Lithuania and Turkey.

Team SA celebrates their Davis Cup victory over Venezuela in New York on 19 September 2021. Picture: @TennisSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Although Lloyd Harris is the talk of the tennis world at the moment, it was teammate Ruan Roelofse who sealed the deal for South Africa as he won his reverse singles match against Dimitri Badra 6-4, 7-6(5) to hand his country a convincing 4-0 victory over Venezuela in the Davis Cup World Group II promotion playoffs.

Although the match was a dead rubber, Team SA captain Christo van Rensburg said that it was good to have Roelofse on the court after he was replaced by Harris in the earlier doubles match: "I know what he does, and I always wanted to be on the court when he plays a match to tell him how I feel we could get him back on track in his ranking. So, it was a very sweet moment for me."

Harris was chosen to play with Raven Klaasen in the doubles - the third match of the tie - against Luis Martinez and Dimitri Badra (which they won 6-2, 6-4), wrapping up the win with two fixtures to spare.

Van Rensburg explained the last-minute switch between the two players: "Lloyd had a very easy first match, not taking anything away from the opponent [Brandon Perez]. You know the guy [Perez] is a good player, it’s just unlucky he had a bad start and then it backfired from there, but just to have that chance.

"Lloyd has a lot of confidence, and he is winning, [so] you have to put him in as many times and say 'I’m giving you two more matches to bring me one more point.'"

Harris, who is the number one ranked South African player, is in fine form, winning all his Davis Cup matches and came into the tie off his first US Open quarterfinal appearance, which propelled him to No. 31 in the ATP rankings.

South Africa will now automatically progress to the 2022 World Group I promotion play-offs along with Lithuania and Turkey.

Van Rensburg said that the work continued for them, with the high-flying Harris committing to taking the team all the way.

"Lloyd has made it very public and very clear that he wants to take a South African team to the World Group. And he said that’s his goal and that’s why it was the easiest call when I made it to him. Right away he said 'I’m in! I’m going to play.'"

The next tie will take place in March 2022.

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