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Raven, Ruan give SA great Davis Cup chance

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South Africa went into Sunday’s reverse singles in their Davis Cup Euro Africa Group 2 with a slight advantage, courtesy of doubles team Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse after Saturday’s epic win.
Klaasen and Roelofse needed just over three hours to beat their Turkish opponents Marsel Ilhan and Cem Ilkel 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5) 4-6 6-3 to give South Africa a 2-1 advantage in the best of five rubber tie.
Dominating from the start, the South Africans were up by two sets to love in just an hour. But the momentum swung Turkey’s way in the third set and although South Africa had chances to close out the rubber in three sets, the Turks played smart collective tennis to win the third set on the tie breaker.
‘We got off to a flyer and thought that we could finish it off in three sets’ said Roelofse. ‘But a few loose points here and there and with the Turkish crowd getting into the match things changed and we were all of a sudden two sets a piece.’
Turkish captain, Haluk Akkoyun played the Davis Cup rules to perfection when an hour before the start of play on Saturday he changed his doubles team from the original two player named and announced his two top singles players would play in the doubles. This surprise move put added pressure on South Africa.
The experience of the Turks, especially world No77 Marsel Ilkel showed in the tie breaker and fourth set which was won by the Turks which levelled the rubber and two sets all.
Roelofse said that during the rest room break before the final fifth set, Klaasen said they had to return to their original game plan. ‘Raven said we must regroup and go back to our game plan, execute the serve, stay aggressive and keep going forward.’
The South Africans did just that and found the important break in the fourth game to lead 3-1. Turkey broke serve in the seventh game but another break by South Africa the very next game gave them a 5-3 lead. Ruan Roelofse then held serve to win the rubber.
‘It was a real nail biter’ said Klaasen following victory. ‘The reality is that when you play Davis Cup there is extra weight on your shoulders playing for your country.
‘We got out the gates good and won the first two sets pretty quickly and all was going according to plan. But Davis Cup is a different animal. The crowd got into the match, we got loose, the Turks lifted their game and all of a sudden it was a real battle. But Ruan and I dug deep and I told Ruan to breathe deep, think slow and play the tennis that won us the first two sets and it all worked out.’
In the reverse singles on Sunday, South Africa will need to win only one of the two singles rubbers to give them that third point to win the tie.


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