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Rik into second round
- Updated: February 1, 2011
South African Davis Cup tennis player Rik De Voest battled for 2hr 40min to beat veteran Italian Stefano Galvani 6-3 5-7 7-6 (8) in the opening singles game of the R3.5m South African Open at Montecasino on Monday.
But, reports Sapa, fellow Davis Cup member Raven Klaasen failed to make it a double for local players in the later game when he went down 6-4 6-3 to Somdev Devvarman – India’s Davis Cup kingpin who had been largely responsible for torpedoing South Africa’s hopes of a return to the Davis Cup World Group in the play-off at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena in 2009.
However, Klaasen, who had only gained entry into the main draw via a gruelling qualifying round campaign, stretched a player ranked almost 200 places above him in the world ratings throughout two absorbing sets.
In the end, Devvarman’s greater variety of strokes and ability to raise his level on key points proved the deciding factors.
The amiable 33 year-old Galvani, who is now ranked a modest 321st in the world after reaching a career-high 99th four years ago, said afterwards that he had played “bad, real bad” in a game that started in sunshine in the late afternoon and finished in the evening under floodlights.
“My service was shocking,” he added. “I served one ace throughout the match and I was so surprised my racket went flying out of my hand. But the true torment for Galvani occured early in the second set when his vision was affected by a fault with his contact lenses when on the brink of defeat while a set down and De Voest earning an early service break in the second set.
To Galvani’s credit, however, he recovered manfully, broke back and took the match into an extended tiebreaker in the third set that could have gone either way.
And while the 182nd-ranked De Voest felt there were certain elements in his play that needed tightening, he believed the standard was a good deal better than Galvani had credited, with the Italian’s low-bouncing groundstrokes were not easy to handle.
“In the end I think I edged through because of my greater knowledge of playing in high altitude conditions, said De Voest, “as well as the motivation I received from the small, but vociferous crowd.”
And De Voest said he shared a general view that the tournament at Montecasino provided a better than usual opportunity for the local players of making a major impact in a top-tier ATP event, with six South Africans in the main singles draw and Kevin Anderson having beaten the top-seeded defending champion, Feliciano Lopez, in a recent tournament in Australia.
The tournament gains momentum on Tuesday when both Anderson and the top-seeded Lopez make their first appearances, with South Africa’s number one player due to meet Switzerland’s Stephane Bohli in the late afternoon game and Lopez opening the night session against Canada’s Frank Dancevic.
Meanwhile, our top-ranked women’s singles player, Chani Scheepers has moved up 27 places to a career-high ranking of 80th in the WTA rankings after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open which ended at the weekend.
RESULTS FROM DAY ONE OF THE SA OPEN
Doubles ÔÇô First Round
Karol Beck (SVK) /Dudi Sela (ISR) d Dustin Brown (GER) /Rogier Wassen (NED) 63 75
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) /Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d Adrian Mannarino (FRA) /Florent Serra (FRA) 63 60
Tomasz Bednarek (POL) /Michal Przysiezny (POL) d Johan Brunstrom (SWE) /Ken Skupski (GBR) 75 46 10-8
Singles ÔÇô First Round
Rik De Voest (RSA) d Stephane Galvani (ITA) 6-3 5-7 7-6 (6)
Simon Greaul (GER) d Thiago Alvez (BRA) 6-2 7-5
Somdev Devvarman (IND) d Raven Klaasen (RSA) 6-4 6-3
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2011
CENTRE COURT (start 12 noon)
[Q] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs  Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) ÔÇ¿[WC] Izak Van Der Merwe (RSA) vs Stephane Robert (FRA) ÔÇ¿ Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs Stephane Bohli (SUI) ÔÇ¿Philipp Oswald (AUT) / Martin Slanar (AUT) vs [WC] Rik de Voest (RSA) / Izak Van Der Merwe (RSA) ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Not Before (7pm)ÔÇ¿ Feliciano Lopez (ESP) vs Frank Dancevic (CAN) ÔÇ¿ Jamie Murray (GBR) / Alexander Peya (AUT) vs Ashley Fisher (AUS) / Jordan Kerr (AUS)
COURT 1 (start 12 noon)
 Florent Serra (FRA) vs Dustin Brown (GER) ÔÇ¿[Q] Nikala Scholtz (RSA) vs Denis Gremelmayr (GER) ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Not Before (2:30pm)ÔÇ¿Jesse Huta Galung (NED) vs  Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) ÔÇ¿Igor Sijsling (NED) vs [WC] Fritz Wolmarans (RSA)
COURT 2 (start 12 noon)
 Michal Przysiezny (POL) vs Martin Fischer (AUT) ÔÇ¿Yuri Schukin (KAZ) vs  Adrian Mannarino (FRA) ÔÇ¿Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs Dudi Sela (ISR) ÔÇ¿Brian Dabul (ARG) vs Karol Beck (SVK)