Pretoria - Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse
came from set down to win the doubles rubber on Saturday to give South Africa
victory over Estonia in their Davis Cup Euro Africa Group 2 tie at the Irene
Country Club in Pretoria.
After a slow start which saw South Africa lose the
opening set in the tiebreaker 7-6 (7/4), Klaasen and Roelofse regrouped to beat
Kenneth Raisma and Mattias Siimar of Estonia 6-7 (7/4), 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.
The 2 hour 27 minute win gave South Africa the all-important
third point and leading Estonia 3-0 were declared winners of the first round
On Friday, both Nik Scholtz and Lloyd Harris won their
opening day singles rubbers which put the hosts in a comfortable 2-0 position
going in to the doubles on Saturday.
The Estonian doubles team started strongly and showed
their muscle early in the rubber. With Raisma winning the junior doubles title
at Wimbledon last year, and he and Mattias reaching the semi-finals of the
European Championships, on paper they may have seemed the underdogs but were
destined to give the South Africans a strong challenge. What also was to the
Estonian duos advantage was that they are both left-handed players, which made
them tricky opponents to read.
But Klaasen is not regarded as one of the world’s
finest doubles player for nothing. The world number 13’s speed, agility
and experience on court gave the South Africans the advantage. With Roelofse's
serving on song, the South African’s regrouped, broke serve in the opening game
of the second set and held on to win the second set 6-3 in 30 minutes.
In the third set, the South Africans capitalised on
one of five break point opportunities and closed out the set 6-4.
But the Estonian fight was not over. Despite a hot and
sweltery 46 degrees Celsius on court temperature, the visitors troubled the hosts in the
fourth set. South Africa squandered a number of break opportunities and
eventually in the 10th game they broke the Estonians and closed out the set
7-5 to win the rubber and tie.
“That rubber was tougher than we expected” said South
African captain Marcos Ondruska after the win.
“We knew the Estonian youngsters
could play good doubles but we really didn’t expect them to come out firing
like they did and after my boys lost the opening set we had to step up and make
the most of all the opportunities thrown. Raven and Ruan did just that and
capitalised on their experience which resulted them winning the next three sets
to clinch the rubber and tie.”
This was the fourth tie Klaasen and Roelofse had
played together and remain unbeaten as a team.
Ondruska gave praise to the Estonians and said that
the doubles rubber was of world class standard and that the spectators were
treated to a really good match.
Klaasen said he was very excited about the
“We didn’t get off to the best start as we would have of liked and
come back from a set down. But that’s Davis Cup for you, you never have
anything the way you expect, players when playing for their country tend to
play better than usual and these Estonian youngsters came out swinging and did
Klaasen said that he was happy that he and Roelofse
had given the team victory as it took the stress off the team for Sunday’s
South Africa, seeded 8th, look set to play Slovenia, seeded 2nd,
at home from April 7-9 in the second round of Euro/Africa Group 2.
lead Monaco at home 2-0, and are expected to win the doubles rubber later on
The last time South Africa played Slovenia was in 2015 away and
Slovenia won that tie 4-1.