Johannesburg - South Africa will play in the Euro-Africa Group I division of the Davis Cup again next season after losing 4-1 to Canada in their World Group playoff in Montreal at the weekend.
The underdog South Africans, who had put up a valiant fight to win the doubles rubber, were eventually halted on Sunday as the hosts ran away with the tie to retain their place in the top tier of the men's global team competition.
World number 15 Milos Raonic beat the South African team's top-ranked player Izak van der Merwe 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 on the final day, and Frank Dancevic defeated debutant Nikala Scholtz 6-2, 6-2.
“I am proud to be part of this new era of Canadian tennis,” Raonic said.
“It's great to be back in the World Group, and there's a lot of time between now and February for us all to improve so that we can improve our chances of advancing further in the World Group in 2013.”
Van der Merwe and doubles specialist Raven Klaasen had kept the tourists in contention with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5) victory over Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor on Saturday.
On the opening day, Van der Merwe had gone down to Pospisil and gutsy 21-year-old Scholtz had narrowly lost to Raonic to put South Africa on the back foot.
“To qualify for the World Group for two straight years shows that we can consistently perform at a high level,” said Canada's non-playing captain, Martin Laurendeau.
“It was a great team effort this week, starting with the way we practiced, the way we prepared for the tie, and the way we executed and played the matches.”
The South Africans, defeated in the playoffs for the fourth year in succession, were without the country's top-ranked player, Kevin Anderson, who made himself unavailable for the tie, and Davis Cup veteran Rik de Voest, who injured his wrist on the eve of the playoff. - Sapa