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Davis Cup all square between SA and Turkey

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South African Davis Cup captain Earl Grainger went to bed a relieved and happy man on Friday as South Africa and Turkey shared the spoils 1-1 after their opening day of their Euro Africa Group 2 Davis Cup tie being played in Mersin, Turkey.
First out on court was the South African No1, Fritz Wolmarans against Turkish No2, Cem Ilkel.
Big serving Wolmarans made a good start to the rubber and his serve in particular was on song. Capitalising on an early break, Wolmarans played more freely and after 35 quick minutes clinched the opening set 6-1.
The second set was a much tighter affair with Ilkel getting to grips with his hometown nerves and enjoying the home crowd support.
The rallies became longer as the set progressed and Wolmarans had to fight harder to hold serve. But Wolmarans stayed composed and eventually found the break in the eighth game winning the set 6-4.
In the third set both players battled to break serve. It proved to be the longest set of the rubber. The set went into a tiebreaker and at 3-3 in the breaker Wolmarans stumbled and served a doubles fault which gave Ilkel the edge and he took the breaker 7-5.
Having won the third set, the Turk was on a high but once again Wolmarans stayed calm and composed and made an early fourth set break. Returning on target, Wolmarans managed to put pressure on the fragile Ilkel serve and broke again to lead 5-1. Wolmarans then held serve to win the set 6-1, clinching the rubber and give his country the first important point of the tie.
A happy Wolmarans said he felt he played a great match. ‘I got off to a good start and it was great to win the first rubber for South Africa and put us on the board which was the goal.
‘I approached the game positively and aggressively. Getting on top of Cem early was a bonus as he started to play better in the third set but I stayed calm and pulled through.’
In the second singles rubber between South African No2 Tucker Vorster and the Turkish top player Marsel Ilhan, Ilhan proved why he is ranked 77th in world tennis. The Turk was a comfortable winner, 6-4 6-3 7-5 in 108 minutes.
The South African started strong, fighting from the first service game. The opening game took a lengthy seven minutes during which Vorster served three aces. But Ilhan found the break of serve in the notorious seventh game and then held serve to win the first set 6-4.
In the second set, Vorster settled down and after calling the SA trainer to court to work on a back spasm, Vorster seemed to be rejuvenated. But Ilhan found the early second set break. Despite a strong fight by Vorster, the second set was based on sustained pressure from Ilhan on the return and service games. Ilhan lifted his first service percentage and took the second set 6-3.
The third set started with loads of energy from both players. Vorster served well to lead 2-1 then broke serve to lead 3-1. But Ilhan broke back and served to level at 3-3. The set went with serve until 5-5 when the Turk found the important break in the 12th game to give him the set 7-5 and rubber win.
Vorster gave credit to his opponent and admitted that going into the singles against Ilhan was a real challenge. ‘Before the match I knew it was going to be tough, and I would have to serve and play well to have a chance.
‘Marsel put me under a lot of pressure and that made the real difference. I feel I played well and served well and managed to get myself into a strong position in the third set and had a chance to take that set, but Marsel is a world class player and steps up his game when he needs to which is something I need to learn.’
Despite being treated by the team trainer, Fayaadh Dhansay on court during the first set, Vorster is confident he will be ready for the reverse singles come Sunday. ‘I had a minor back spasm which bothered me in the opening set, but after Fayaadh treated me it was fine. Its uncomfortable but manageable going forward. With a rest day on Saturday and being cautious I should be ready for the reverse singles on Sunday.’
Captain Grainger was happy with the way the opening day turned out. ‘Fritz gave us a great start. He remained positive and executed well when he moved forward and shortened the points.’
Grainger then gave credit to Vorster who he said ‘played well against an ‘accomplished player’.
‘I’m very happy with the way today has gone and look forward to the doubles on Saturday’ continued Grainger.
Saturday’s doubles rubber starts at 2pm South African time and will be shown live on SuperSport DSTV Channel 208.


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