SA in steady David Cup start

2008-09-20 10:13
Johannesburg - "We'll all sleep well," was the message from team captain John-Laffnie de Jager after South Africa had made a gruelling, but satisfying start to their crucial Euro-Africa Group 2 Davis Cup tie against Monaco at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Friday.

In spite of losing the opening sets in both singles ties, South Africa finished the opening day's play with a 1-0 lead after Kevin Anderson had played with grim resolution to beat Monaco's Benjamin Balleret 6-7 (7) 6-2 2-6 6-3 6-0 in a game which stretched close to four hours and Rik De Voest was leading Jean-Rene Lisnard 4-6 6-4 7-5 before bad light halted play.

"It's a different game on clay," explained De Jager. "Not that the South Africans did much wrong, but the Monaco players, who are brought up on clay courts, know all the tricks in the book for this red clay court surface and gave nothing away."

Anderson appeared a beaten man after losing the third set 6-2 and going down 2-1 in sets, only to storm back with a vengeance and complete a gutsy success by taking the final two sets 6-3 6-0 against a tiring opponent.

De Voest was also in trouble while losing the first set 6-4 against Monaco number one Jean-Rene Lisnard, but he displayed characteristic tenacity to forge into a lead by two sets to one after edging out the third set by seven games to five.

De Voest's battle royale will be resumed at 11.30am on Saturday morning, with the doubles following in the afternoon.

The winner of this tie is automatically promoted to Euro-Africa Group 1 next year - only one section below the prestigious World Group.

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