SA beat Denmark at a canter

2008-07-20 00:00

The South African Davis Cup tennis team completed a 5-0 rout of Denmark at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park yesterday.

And in so doing, the next hurdle for non-playing captain John-Laffnie de Jager’s buoyant SA team is a playoff with Monaco in Monte Carlo for promotion to Euro/Africa Zone Group 1, which is the division below the business-end World Group.

“We have a great bunch of guys in the SA team right now,” De Jager said. “With the right support and backing, the current group could have two or three in the top 100 quite soon and that would be fantastic for our Davis Cup team.”

Home team Monaco had also wrapped up their tie 3-0 on Saturday over Algeria and the draw places them as hosts of the September 19 to 21 tie with South Africa.

Yesterday’s reverse singles matches were irrelevant to the outcome of the Emperors Palace tie as SA had already wrapped things up on Saturday afternoon with their doubles win, which complemented the pair of singles victories on Friday.

For the record — in matches that were relatively entertaining considering they had no weight, what with SA in an unassailable 3-0 lead with two to play — SA number one Kevin Anderson beat Dane number four Thomas Kromann 6-1 6-3, who was a replacement for hapless Denmark number one Frederik Nielsen.

As the tie had already been decided, Sunday’s two matches were reduced from best-of-five sets to best of three. And in the last match, SA number four Izak van der Merwe — replacing number two Rik de Voest — met Danish number two Martin Pedersen with the result being a 7-6 (12-10) 6-4 win to the South African, leaving the tie 5-0 to SA.

After Friday’s 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 6-2 win for Anderson over Pedersen and De Voest’s easy 6-3 6-2 6-2 defeat of Nielsen, the real intensity of the tie was reserved for Saturday afternoon’s doubles – and it didn’t disappoint.

The Danes had to win to keep their hopes alive, while SA — knowing they could kill the tie off with a win — included the in-form De Voest in place of Van der Merwe to play alongside doubles specialist Jeff Coetzee.

The SA partnership worked, as the confident Coetzee and De Voest defeated pumped-up Nielsen and Rasmus Norby 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 4-6 7-5 in the most competitive encounter of the tie.

A clearly annoyed Nielsen was not happy with a line call he claimed turned the match.

“It was a disgraceful line call at a vital moment and it changed the momentum of the second set in South Africa’s favour,” Nielsen said. “It was so bad it reminded me of playing Davis Cup in Eastern Europe. You accept mistakes by linesmen, but if they miss something so blatant it is unforgivable.”

In response, SA captain De Jager was a little more philosophical: “In tennis you get good calls and bad, it’s part of the game. I don’t think that that one call changed the match, as Rik and Jeff were sharp in the face of the Danes, who played really well.

“In [Euro/Africa Zone] Group 2, there is no Hawkeye and this call the Danes are complaining about was nothing like we [SA] experienced in Georgia if you want to talk about bad line calls,” De Jager said.

Results wrap:

Friday: 1-Kevin Anderson (Rsa) bt 2-Martin Pedersen (Den) 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 6-2; 2-Rik de Voest (SA) bt 1-Frederik Nielsen (Den) 6-3 6-2 6-2.

Saturday: Jeff Coetzee and De Voest (Rsa) bt Neilsen and Rasmus Norby (Den) 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 4-6 7-5.

Yesterday: 1-Anderson (SA) bt 4- Thomas Kromann (Den) 6-1 6-3; 4-Izak van der Merwe (SA) bt 2-Pedersen (Den) 7-6 (12-10) 6-4.

* SA win 5-0.

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