3 February 2014
South Africa secured a 3-2 win over Monaco at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria on Sunday to advance to round two of the Euro/Africa 2 Davis Cup competition.
Victory was clinched at 3-1 up when Rik de Voest, the South African number one, defeated Monaco number one Benjamin Balleret 7-6, 6-2, 6-3.
It was a very different de Voest that came onto court on Sunday than the one who did battle on Friday. When de Voest lost the opening rubber on Friday against Romain Arneodo, he struggled with his serve and didn’t play the big points well. On Sunday, though, de Voest was on top of his game and troubled Balleret from start to finish.
‘Today I played well’
“I just felt so motivated and on fire today,” De Voest said afterwards. “I put up a big fight on Friday, but didn’t play that well. Today I played well. I was motivated to do well and restore some pride in front of my home crowd fans.”
Balleret said he had expected a tough test from De Voest. “We both had lost going into Sunday’s rubber, so whoever lost on Sunday was going to be loser of the weekend. I didn’t want that and nor did Rik, and I must give credit to Rik for lifting his game to the level he did. He was far the better player out there,” the Monaco number one said.
Monaco claimed the final match of the tie when Nik Scholtz retired at 5-7 down to Romain Arneodo due to a persistent hip flexor strain.
‘We are so happy’
South African captain John-Laffnie De Jager declared himself delighted with the win. “A win is a win. We are so happy that we could pull off the win against Monaco in front of an enthusiastic home crowd,” he said.
“I must give credit to Monaco for the big fight they put up, but huge applause to the South African lads for pulling off the win. Rik was a very different player on Sunday. Rik was the Rik I am used to and he proved once again to be such a crucial part of our side.”
De Jager also complimented the Irene Country Club and the crowds that showed up to support the home team. “Irene Country Club is a perfect Davis Cup venue. My team and Monaco have thoroughly enjoyed the stay and warm hospitality, and compliments to the Club for being such magnificent hosts.
“The fans came out in their droves. We had full houses on the weekend and it proves that there are a ton of people out there that are loyal and passionate about tennis and are hungry to see the local stars in action.”
Scholtz was the hero for South Africa on Friday when he beat Balleret, ranked about 600 places above him in the world rankings, after Monaco had taken the lead through Arneodo.
The Monagasque number two outlasted De Voest in five sets, winning 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. Scholtz then came out on the right side of a five-setter, delivering a 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3 victory for the home team.
On Saturday, South Africa took a 2-1 lead in the tie after a tightly contested doubles clash. Recent Australian Open doubles runner-up Raven Klaasen teamed up with Ruan Roelofse to claim a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 win over Guillaume Couillard and Thomas Oger.
South Africa will next face Lithuania in another home tie from 4 to 6 April. Tennis South Africa will announced the venue within the next few weeks.