India-South Africa draw recalls 1974 apartheid default win

May 13th, 2009 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, May 13 (IANS) The Davis Cup draw of India against South Africa in the tennis tournament has recalled memories of a controversial final in 1974 between the two countries which South Africa won by default.

India refused to play against South Africa because of the country’s firm resolve to continue the protest it had launched against apartheid in 1947 at the United Nations. This resulted in South Africa winning the Davis Cup by default, the only time in the history of the tourney that it has ever won a final.

This time round, it is a completely different story.

The Indian team will come to a democratic South Africa which has just seen Jacob Zuma assume the reins as President. They will also play to spectators of all races, while in the apartheid era, games were played to segregated audiences because legislation prohibited mixed race games.

Eleven years after featuring in the elite Davis Cup World Group, South Africa will host India to reclaim a position there.

Even though the tennis fraternity here welcomed the opportunity, South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager cautioned that it would not be an easy task.

De Jager said India had one of the best doubles teams in the world in Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, and the South African team should therefore not take them lightly.

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