Rik de Voest stretched Florian Mayer to three sets, after putting up a tremendous fight, but South Africa nonetheless went down 5-0 to Germany on the third and final day of the Davis Cup World Group tennis play-off in Stuttgart on Sunday.
The Germans had already secured victory after Saturday’s doubles rubber, but came out firing again, with Mayer bagging a 6-3 6-7 (10/8) 6-2 win over a gutsy De Voest and Andreas Beck coasting to a 7-5 6-2 win over Izak van der Merwe.
Mayer, the world No45, ranked 160 places ahead of De Voest, broke as early as the first game of the match and looked set to run away with it.
And while the German No2 pocketed the first, De Voest put up a tremendous fight in the second set. With Mayer at match point, leading 40-15 in the game and 5-4 ahead in the set, the 30-year-old South African bounced back and stretched it to a tie-break, which he won after a seesaw battle.
Mayer broke twice, however, in the final set to secure the whitewash for the hosts. “He’s not your standard, orthodox clay court player, and when he hits the ball well, he’s just too good,” De Voest said. “He had the beating of me in the first set, but then I started swinging a lot more and I managed to make a match of it.”
Beck had given Germany a 4-0 lead going into the final match, defeating Van der Merwe, the visiting team’s No 1, in straight sets.
Van der Merwe was initially expected to face German No1 Philipp Kohlschreiber, but with the tie already decided, the latter was replaced by Beck.
The South African took control early on when he broke serve in the second game of the opening set, which involved some lengthy rallies.
But Van der Merwe got visibly frustrated, initially with a line call and then with a fidgeting cameraman, and Beck broke twice to win the first set.
The German broke twice again in the second, and with the dead rubber reduced to the best of three sets, Beck went on to win the match convincingly.
“I blew the first set after I had broken early and taken charge, and mentally I was always playing from behind”ÔÇØ Van der Merwe said.
“I let it slip and I think it was more of a battle with myself than my opponent today. But Andreas played well and he deserved to win.”
Germany will play in the World Group in 2011 for the sixth year in succession. South Africa will play again in Group 1 of the Europe/Africa Zone.