Bates's experience in 19 Davis Cup campaigns since his debut against Portugal in 1985 should serve Britain well as he attempts to provide a winning start in the battle to regain their place in the world group.
The 30-year-old British No 1 was yesterday drawn to face the talented 19-year-old, Leander Paes, ranked 165 places lower in the world at 255, in the first rubber of the promotion/relegation play-off which will be played on grass.
The surface should be the least of Bates's problems after his exploits in reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon during the summer. This success, which captured the imagination of the nation, was followed up a few weeks later by a first victory over John McEnroe in Washington.
Mark Petchey, a 22-year-old from Loughton, plays the experienced Ramesh Krishnan, 31, in the second singles while Bates and Neil Broad team up against Paes and Krishnan tomorrow with the reverse singles on Sunday.
That leaves Hampshire's Chris Wilkinson, ranked 62 places higher than Petchey, on the sidelines for the second successive cup tie. The British captain, Tony Pickard, therefore sticks with the team who fought hard against the holders, France, last January despite the 5-0 whitewash which set up this battle for a place in the Davis Cup Premier Division.
Elsewhere, one of the strongest United States teams (Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and McEnroe) battle for a place in the final when they meet Stefan Edberg's Sweden on clay in Minneapolis. The other semi-final in Geneva is between Switzerland and Brazil. The Swiss, spearheaded by the Olympic champion, Marc Rosset, defeated the holders, France, in the quarter-finals.
DRAW (singles world rankings in brackets): Today: (0600): J Bates (90) v L Paes (255); M Petchey (238) v R Krishnan (203). Saturday (0830): Bates and N Broad v Krishnan and Paes. Sunday (0600): Petchey v Paes; Bates v Krishnan. (All times BST).
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