SA lead in Davis Cup tie
The game which South Africa regarded as a banker and were supposedly certain to win ended in defeat in the Euro-Africa Group Two tie against Monaco at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Saturday.
However, despite Jeff Coetzee and Izak van der Merwe losing their doubles match against Monaco's Jean-Rene Lisnard and Guillaume Couillard, it was South Africa who emerged 2-1 leaders going into Sunday's deciding singles games.
Earlier on Saturday, Rik De Voest completed a 4-6 6-4 7-5 7-6 (4) win over Monaco number one Lisnard after the game had been halted after three sets on Friday due to failing light.
Displaying an admirable combination of composure and grit on the red clay surface, De Voest edged out the final set tiebreaker and sent South Africa into a dominant 2-0 lead.
But the expectation that South Africa would clinch the tie and with it a place in next year's Euro-Africa Group One in the doubles was rudely shattered when the makeshift combination of Coetzee and Van der Merwe went down 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-4 to Couillard and Lisnard.
South Africa were without Coetzee's regular partner, Wesley Moodie, who is expected to be out of tennis till the end of the year with a leg injury.
But team captain John-Laffnie de Jager said this should not be taken as an excuse for the defeat.
"Like in singles," he added, "doubles can be an entirely different game on a clay surface and the Monaco pair showed their mettle in mastering the conditions."
The tie will now be decided on Sunday when South African number one Kevin Anderson is due to play Lisnard and De Voest is down to face Benjamin Balleret.