O’Brien to open for South Africa

FILE PICTURE: South Africa's Dean O'Brien. Picture: Backpagepix

FILE PICTURE: South Africa's Dean O'Brien. Picture: Backpagepix

South African number one-nominated Davis Cup tennis player Dean O’Brien will take on Karen Khachanov in the Euro/Africa Davis Cup relegation play-off tie against Russia on Friday.

At the draw concluded today on Thursday, Khachanov the number two-nominated Russian was drawn first from the hat. O’Brien, who was named for his first Davis Cup call-up last month against Slovenia, did not play any part in that tie.

But this weekend, O’Brien will form a key part of the South African line-up and will get South Africa’s weekend campaign underway. O’Brien was based in Johannesburg before moving to Atlanta in the United States of America and turned professional at the start of the year.

He is currently ranked 563 in the world. The 23-year-old faces a tough opener against Khachanov (17), with a world ranking of 513.

The Russian heads into the tie on the back of a quarterfinal berth at last week’s Kremlien Cup played at the same venue as this weekend’s Davis Cup encounter.

South Africa captain John-Laffnie de Jager named rookie Japie de Klerk as his second singles player. De Klerk, from Ashton in the Boland, is currently living and playing US College tennis at the University of Tulsa.

De Klerk will be the next player up for South Africa, in the second game against Russian number one-nominated player, Alex Bogomolov (ranked 80th in the world.

“I am very excited to be playing for South Africa,” said De Klerk ahead of Friday’s match. “I am truly honoured to play for my country, I feel confident about my game, and am ready to give of my best.”

De Klerk reached the semifinals of the prestigious NCAA Championships last semester and his aggressive baseline game has impressed De Jager.

De Jager said after a week’s training he felt De Klerk was the best option as the number two choice.

“I’ve came to the decision because De Klerk has been playing well in recent months, and then at training this week he was really impressive,” De Jager said.

“That’s why I selected De Klerk and I have confidence that he’ll do the business and give us our best shot. “He has nothing to lose and the Russians know very little of Japie which could play to our advantage.”

De Jager added that he was happy with the draw. “It is good for us that Dean is playing first. “The team has prepared well and now we have to go and execute. It is always a great privilege to represent our country.”

Teams: South Africa: Dean O’Brien, Raven Klaasen, Tucker Vorster, Japie De Klerk. Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager.

Russia: Alex Bogomolov Jr, Karen Kachanov, Andrey Kuznetsov, Konstantin Kravchuk. Captain: Shamil Tarpischev.





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