LONDON – Milos Raonic likes Canada’s chances against South Africa in a critical Davis Cup tennis playoff later this year.
The 21-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., is expected to lead the Canadian team into the best-of-five tie. Canada must win in order to remain in the World Group for 2013, while a loss would relegate the squad back to Americas Zone Group I.
“I think it’s going to be a good one for us. Their players play similar to our players. They try to play aggressive,” Raonic said on a conference call Wednesday. “I think we’re going to have our opportunities and it’s going to be about making the most of them.
“It’s going to be tough but you’re playing to be one of 16 teams in World Group next year so there’s no way around it other than a tough matchup.”
Canada is ranked 13th in the world while the South Africans are 23rd.
The Canadians started the year in the World Group for the first time since 2004 but lost their first-round tie 4-1 to France in February, forcing the playoff against South Africa.
The Sept. 14-16 tie will be held in South Africa with the specific venue and court surface to be announced later.
South Africa boasts one player in the ATP’s top-100, Kevin Anderson.
Raonic says the No. 33 player in the world will pose a tough test.
“He’s a good friend on the tour. He’s a nice guy. As a player, he plays aggressive,” he said. “He’s won the tournament in South Africa before in Johannesburg in altitude so he knows how to play in those conditions. He’s a very capable player.”
Raonic, who was forced to withdraw from the Key Biscayne tournament last month because of an ankle injury and has also struggled with hip and knee problems, says he’s going to better manage his time this season in hopes of staying healthy.
“I’m really focusing this year on the big tournaments especially,” said Raonic, who hopes to represent Canada at the London Olympics. “I’m focusing my energy on playing fewer weeks and focusing on playing my best at the big events.
“I learned from last year when I sometimes stretched myself out too much and I’ve really narrowed my attention of specific events and making sure I’m the best player I can be during those weeks.”
The Canadian team that lost to France in February also included Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., and Toronto’s Daniel Nestor.