"Bring on the big dogs."

That was Rubin Statham's response, when asked who he would like to face in next round of the Davis Cup.

The Kiwi veteran took out the first reverse singles match on Saturday afternoon, to clinch a 3-1 victory over Venezuela in the World Group 1 playoff.

That means New Zealand could face a mouth-watering tie in September.


They'll play one of the 12 nations who lose in the qualifying round this weekend, with the USA, Germany, Argentina, Sweden all in action, as well as Dominic Thiem's Austria and David Goffin's Belgium, along with the likes of India, Korea, Uruguay and Brazil.

There would be no easy opponent at that level, but Statham wants the toughest foe possible.

"Bring on the big dogs," said Statham. "That's why you play tennis and that's what you want. Let's not shy away from competition. We have got another opportunity to play some of the top countries now. We could be playing away, or hopefully we get to play a home tie, that would be amazing."

"It would be fantastic, would be a great experience. And not only an experience, but we would go after it. We have got some top doubles players and I can pull out some magic once in a while. It would be great for tennis as a whole in the country if we got one of those leading countries and the top players in the world here."

Captain Alistair Hunt concurred, saying that were hoping for a "big nation" and someone they hadn't played before.

Statham's experience was vital on Saturday, as he stepped in for Ajeet Rai, who had struggled to step up as he dropped the opening day singles to lesser ranked opponent.

Statham prevailed over Brandon Perez 6-2 6-7 (3) 4-1 win in two hours and four minutes.

The 20-year-old Perez lifted to take the second set but then fell apart physically, as he was hampered by cramp.


He took a medical time out at 1-2 in the third set, before being broken to love in the next game, serving three double faults.

After Statham held, Perez then collapsed on the court early in the next game and couldn't continue.

"It was pretty tough, a pretty physical match," said Statham. "I thought strategically I played pretty well. I didn't play my best tennis – having been out for a year – but I rose to the occasion and got the job done."

Earlier Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell put New Zealand 2-1 up, after a 6-3 7-6 (3) doubles win over Jordi Munoz and Luis David Martinez.

It was the key encounter of the tie, and swung the momentum heavily back in New Zealand's favour.

In a tight second set Daniell faced a set point at 4-5, 30-40. He gambled with a big second serve ace and held.

The Kiwi pair then lifted in the tiebreak, gaining an early advantage before closing out the match with some brilliant combination tennis, with Hunt paying tribute to their tenacity.

"Yet again they are out there playing under pressure, with everyone's expectation that they should clean it up pretty tidily," said Hunt. "In the end it was reasonably tight match and they responded well under pressure."