Davis Cup agony for SA
John-Laffnie De Jager (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Russia dominated South Africa 5-0 in the Davis Cup Euro/Africa Zone 1 Relegation play-off tie that ended in Moscow on Sunday.
On Saturday the Russians clinched the tie when their doubles team of Konstantin Kravchuk and Andrey Kuznetsov beat Raven Klaasen and Tucker Vorster 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to give the home side the important third point for victory. The reverse singles were played on Sunday and despite both matches being dead rubbers both Captains opted to play both singles. However, the Russian Captain, Shamil Tarpischev changed his singles line up for both Sunday singles rubbers.
Tarpischev brought in world number 138 Andrey Kuznetsov to replace their top player Alex Bogomolov Jnr. to play South African Dean O'Brien. Kuznetsov beat O'Brien 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and sixteen minutes of dominating tennis with Kuznetsov's effective serve being the key weapon throughout.
It was then the turn of Konstantin Kravchuk, who was the Russian star player in the doubles, to play South African rookie, Japie De Klerk.
Kravchuk replaced originally nominated Karen Khachanov, the seventeen year old European Champion. Kravchuk was not on court for long as De Klerk threw in the towel at 4-1 down.
De Klerk was obviously in pain on court after a knee and quad strain injury sustained in the second set of his Friday singles rubber started to give the twenty one year old South African trouble.
South African captain, John-Laffnie De Jager was very disappointed with the result.
"It was an eye opener for my young guys who have never played tennis at this level. Dean, Japie and Tucker will have to step up their physical ability if they want to compete at this level. They are just not used to five sets of top class tennis. We will have to keep track of the young guys and make sure their coaches do the right things with them and insist they stay in good shape."
De Jager added that despite the loss he was still positive regarding the future of his team. 'We started in Group III, now we played in Group I, I think our guys have potential", he said.
"We knew this tie would be a challenge for us. Our team did not have any experience in playing at this level. The Russian team was stronger and deserved this win." De Jager added that the squad were committed to working hard to regain their position in Group 1 in 2014.
Results of the Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 relegation play-off between South Africa and Russia in Moscow:
Russia 5 - South Africa 0
Reverse singles on Sunday:
Andrey Kutznetsov (Rus) bt Dean O'Brien (RSA) 6-2 6-3
Konstantin Kravchuk (Rus) bt Japie De Klerk (RSA) 4-1 De Klerk retired injured (Knee and quad strain)
Singles on Friday:
Karen Khachanov (Rus) bt Dean O'Brien (RSA) 7-5 6-1 6-3
Alex Bogomolov Jnr. (Rus) vs Japie De Klerk (RSA) 6-7 (3) 6-0 6-4 6-1
Doubles on Saturday:
Konstantin Kravchuk/Andrey Kuznetsov (Rus) bt Raven Klaasen/Tucker Vorster (RSA) 2-6 6-3 7-6 (4) 6-2