The key to New Zealand's Davis Cup tennis tie hopes against Korea hinge on a "Claytons" singles player.

Claytons was an Australian beverage in the 1970s, which carried the tag line "The drink you have having when you are not having a drink".

Michael Venus is no longer a singles player on the ATP circuit - he concentrates almost exclusively on doubles and doesn't even have a singles ranking anymore - but will spearhead the New Zealand challenge from today in Auckland.

With his huge serve and big forehand, Venus remains arguably the most dangerous singles player in this country. The 29-year-old has shown that at the ASB Classic in recent years, with his historic first round win in 2015 before pushing Feliciano Lopez in three sets this year.


Venus was also at the forefront of New Zealand's last significant Davis Cup win (in 2015 over China), with two singles victories, including a five set marathon over Ze Zhang.

"I love playing singles," said Venus. "It just happens with my schedule now that I don't get as much opportunity. [But] I've played on this court all the time and I'm confident going out there."

Venus has played just 10 singles matches since the beginning of the 2016 season, and only two this year.

New Zealand No1 Rubin Statham (world No408) is in good form, after what he describes as the "best start to a year in my career". He went close against Jiri Vesely in the second round of the ASB Classic - after getting through as a lucky loser - and has reached two Futures final in China, winning one.

Korea have a weakened side, with the absence of their top two players who are focussed on French Open preparations, but won't be pushovers.

The winner of the tie will seal their place in Asia/Oceania Group 1 while the loser faces a relegation battle later in 2017 to stay in the group.

Davis Cup tie

New Zealand vs Korea Davis Cup

Today, 11am start:

Rubin Statham (NZ) v Seong Chan Hong (Korea).

Followed by

Michael Venus (NZ) v Soon Woo Kwon (Korea).

Saturday, 2pm start:

Marcus Daniell/ Artem Sitak (NZ) v Hong Chung/Jae Moon Lee (Korea).

Sunday, 11am start
Reverse singles

Statham v Kwon.

Venus v Hong.