Emotionally charged Christo van Rensburg plots 4-0 Davis Cup whitewash for SA over Venezuela
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CAPE TOWN - New Davis Cup captain Christo van Rensburg was emotional after South Africa wrapped up their Davis Cup by Rakuten World Group II tie 4-0 against Venezuela on Sunday at Forest Hills Stadium in New York.
It was a clinical performance by the South Africans who did not drop a set all day in Sunday's two rubbers, after running up a 2-0 lead on Saturday.
Van Rensburg said it was vital to win the doubles in Sunday's opening rubber. He deviated from history by dropping the seasoned Ruan Roelofse, who has for years has played with Raven Klaasen. The pair have ever only lost once.
"It was a difficult decision to tell Ruan he's not playing doubles because he has done so well for South Africa in the past," said Van Rensburg, whose Davis Cup career for South Africa was cut short by years of sporting isolation. As a result, he only managed one match for the national team, which at the time were called Springboks. He was close to tears as he shared his experience with the media after his maiden appearance as a Davis Cup captain.
"I asked Lloyd (Harris) to play doubles to give us the best chance to secure a win. The doubles was one chance Venezuela had to come back into the rubber, and I had to make sure it was not going to happen.
"Ruan played the reverse singles afterwards, and although it was a dead rubber, it was a good outing for him. It will be great if we can help him improve his singles rankings because he can do better."
Klaasen (world No 24 doubles) and Harris (world No 31 singles) closed out a 6-2 6-4 win over Venezuela's pairing of Dimitri Badra and Luis David Martinez, in 59 minutes. With this result, South Africa won the tie.
In Sunday's only reverse singles match, Roelofse defeated Badra 6-4 7-6(5) to wrap up the 4-0 victory.
Going into the tie, South Africa had a Davis Cup ranking of 52 and Venezuela further back at 56.
South Africa will now automatically progress to the 2022 World Group I Play-offs in March along with Lithuania and Turkey after the weekend's World Group II play-offs.