Tennis: Statham up first in Davis Cup against Uzbekistan

Rubin Statham, of New Zealand, will play tomorrow's match against Uzbekistan.  Photo / Sarah Ivey
Rubin Statham, of New Zealand, will play tomorrow's match against Uzbekistan. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Rubin Statham has been selected as New Zealand's second singles player in the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan starting tomorrow in Tauranga.

However, Statham, who has a 19-4 singles record for New Zealand and is ranked at 554 in the world, has the tough task of playing world No 58 Denis Istomin.

That clash will start the tie at 3pm and will be followed by Kiwi No 1 Michael Venus facing Uzbek No 2 Farrukh Dustov.

With crowd numbers steadily growing at the 2000-seat indoor arena, the Kiwis are hoping home advantage will help them through the tough Asia/Oceania group one contest.

"It's great to be able to play at home and to know your friends and family can watch," Venus said. "It really helps and it's such a rarity to play at home. I think it can really give you a good advantage."

For Statham, 24, taking on a player who has been inside the top 40 in his career is a big challenge but one he's looking forward to.

"It doesn't really matter who plays first - we're pretty easy with it. I've played him (Istomin) twice before now ... maybe it's third time lucky. I've learnt a lot and have a good strategy in place and have studied his matches," Statham said.

"The way I see it world rankings go out the window once you step on the court to play for your country. This is my 17th tie for New Zealand I've got a good record and I have pride playing for my country."

Statham is picked ahead of Artem Sitak who has the better ATP ranking, but less experience in Davis Cup.

Meanwhile, Uzbek No 1 Istomin struck a relaxed note about the contest.

"This is a different story playing for the country in best of five set matches. I will try to do my best and get the point for my country. It won't be easy, but I think we do it," he said.

In the doubles on Saturday, New Zealand have chosen Venus and Dan King-Turner, who had success at this year's Heineken Open and at a challenger event in Honolulu. Uzbekistan have chosen Istomin and Dustov, however combinations can be changed until an hour before play.

Teams

New Zealand (with ATP rankings):

Michael Venus (357)

Artem Sitak (424)

Rubin Statham (554)

Daniel King-Turner (484)

Marcel Vos (non-playing captain)

Uzbekistan:

Denis Istomin (58)

Farrukh Dustov (247)

Murad Inoyatov (524)

Sarvar Ikramov

Petr Lebed (non-playing captain)

Schedule for New Zealand vs Uzbekistan Davis Cup tie, beginning tomorrow in Tauranga:

Friday, February 10:
2.45pm - Opening ceremony
3pm - Rubin Statham (NZL) vs Denis Istomin (UZB)
Followed by
Michael Venus (NZL) vs Farrukh Dustov (UZB)

Saturday, February 11:
3pm - Venus/Dan King-Turner (NZL) v Istomin/Dus
Sunday, February 12
11am - Two reverse singles rubbers

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 27 Dec 2014 06:41:19 Processing Time: 432ms