The South African Davis Cup team made a solid start against Estonia in Friday’s first day of their Davis Cup tie against Estonia at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria.
The KIA-sponsored South Africans won both singles rubbers giving them a 2-0 lead against the visitors.
Nik Scholtz, the South African No2, opened procedures and was leading Jürgen Zopp, the top-seeded Estonian, 4-6 6-4 6-3 when Zopp fell to the court with an abdominal injury and was forced to retire from the rubber after 2hr 11min of play.
Scholtz had started slowly and after losing the first set, regrouped and found his rhythm late in the second set, using his big serve and powerful ground strokes to break Zopp in the 10th game and win the set and level matters.
In the third set, Scholtz saved break points in the opening two games and in the fifth game was 0-40 down on serve but aced his way out of trouble, found the break in the eighth game and held on to win the third set 6-3.
‘It’s not nice to be injured during a match and I feel for Jürgen’ said Scholtz. ‘But I really turned things around and although we didn’t finish the match I felt I was in control and won that match and I’ll take the win regardless. Yip, it is a bit of an anti-climax not having won a full match but I’ll take the win and felt good being declared the victor’ continued Scholtz.
Zopp said he was bitterly disappointed for him and his team having to retire during the match. ‘After the first set I felt I was in control but unfortunately the serve is such an important part of the game especially up here at altitude and I really could not do anything with the pain
‘Injuries are part of sport and unfortunately they seem to always come at the wrong time. I feel disappointed not only for me but also for my team as I knew how important this point was for us to win.’
In the second singles rubber, South Africa’s No1 Lloyd Harris impressively beat Estonian Vladimir Ivanov 6-4 6-3 6-2 in 1:56.
Harris was fast out the starting blocks but Ivanov held on strongly. Harris eventually found his first break of serve in the 10th game to win the opening set 6-4. From that point Harris dominated throughout, losing only five games in the last two sets.
‘I was really happy out there today, I played solid and made a good start which always helps. I’m pleased I have been able to take South Africa to a 2-0 lead after day one,’ said Harris.
Marcos Ondruska, the South Africa team captain, said he was extremely satisfied after day one.
‘I couldn’t have wished for a better start. My boys played well and I know my doubles team will go to bed tonight and sleep better with us being 2-0 up.
‘But credit to our Estonian opponents who despite the challenges facing them have conducted themselves very well. They have some talented youngsters in their team and two are left handers which makes it tricky but my boys are well prepared and we hope that on Saturday we can seal a win.’
The doubles rubber will be played at 12 noon on Saturday.
Picture of Scholtz being congratulated by Ondruska, courtesy of Reg Caldecott
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