Johannesburg - South Africa go into Sunday's reverse singles in their Davis Cup Euro Africa Group II tie with a slight advantage courtesy of doubles team Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse after their epic win on Saturday.
The pair took 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.
Dominating from the start, the South Africans were up by two sets to love within the first 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 a 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."
An hour before play, Turkish team captain Haluk Akkoyun switched his players 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 number 77 Ilhan showed in the tie breaker and fourth set which was won by the Turks.
During the rest room break before the final fifth set, Klaasen told Roelofse said to stick to their original tactics.
"Raven said we must regroup and go back to our game plan, execute the serve, stay aggressive and keep going forward," Roelofse said.
The South Africans did just that and found the important break in the fourth game of the final set to lead 3-1.
Turkey broke serve in the seventh game but another break by South Africa gave them a 5-3 lead. Roelofse then held serve to win the rubber.
"It was a real nail biter," said Klaasen following victory.
"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.
"Ruan and I dug deep and I told him to breathe deeply, 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 one of the two singles rubbers to give them the tie.
Both singles rubbers will be shown live on SuperSport 8 (DSTV Channel 208) from 11:50.