The South Africa Davis Cup team won their Europe/Africa II first-round tie against Bulgaria after Lloyd Harris’ singles win at Kelvin Grove Club, Newlands, on Saturday.
Harris, the SA No 1, defeated his Bulgaria counterpart Dimitar Kuzmanov 6-3 7-6 (3) in Saturday’s first reverse singles rubber and that gave South Africa an unassailable 3-1 lead, with one singles match remaining in the tie.
It was the second successive triumph for the hosts on Saturday after Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse won the doubles contest for a 2-1 overall lead. Klaasen and Roelofse defeated Alexander Donski and Alexandar Lazarov their 6-3 6-2.
South Africa, the second seeds in the Europe/Africa II group have a Davis Cup ranking of 44. Bulgaria is unseeded and 64 on the Davis Cup ladder.
Klassen said that doubles contest proved to be a turning point in the tie and was far more intense than it seemed.
“We were playing in front of a huge crowd and we knew the expectation. We needed to produce a sound performance and that creates pressure,” said Klaasen.
“When the score goes with serve, the other pressures come to fore and you have to deal with it.
“We took a time to settle down, about 15 minutes or so, and then we started feeling comfortable.”
Harris said after his game he was greatly relieved that the team had achieved their target of winning the tie. South Africa had lost its last two home ties.
“It was tricky, but we succeeded in getting over the line,” said an emotional Harris. “Bulgaria played well and did a tremendous job.
“I drew great inspiration from the crowd, they were electric. At times, they gave me goosebumps. I felt their energy.
“As the game wore on, I felt more positive and felt the crowd’s energy.
“There was breeze blowing and it made conditions a little different from yesterday. My serve went well, and I was happy with my play from both ends.
“Both of us were aggressive and there were times when could use my forehand to good effect.”
In the final match of the day, rookies Phillip Henning (SA) and Gabriel Donev (Bulgaria) played the final reverse singles, a dead rubber. Henning won 6-2 6-3 for an eventual 4-1 tie victory for South Africa.
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