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Davis Cup veteran Rik downed by debutant

Monaco took a 1-0 lead in the Euro-Africa Group Two tie against South Africa on Friday after Davis Cup tennis debutant, Romain Arneodo caused an upset in the opening match of the tie at the Irene Country Club in Centurion.

The second singles match between South Africa’s Nik Scholtz and Monaco’s Benjamin Balleret was suspended during the second set due to bad light and woll resume early on Saturday. Scholtz was up a set against Balleret when play was stopped, according to Sapa.

Earlier, Arneodo earned himself a hard-fought 7-5 3-6 7-5 5-7 6-4 win over stalwart Rik de Voest, in a gruelling match that lasted four and a half hours.

“I feel so proud for what I’ve done today and very happy to get the first point for the team,” Arneodo said after the match. “It’s the first time I play a five set match and first time I play Davis cup for Monaco, so I’m very happy with how things went.

“I did a lot of training during the winter and I think it paid off today and now I feel confident about my tennis.”

De Voest was troubled by Arneodo, who came out attacking from the first set, piling on the pressure which proved to be too much for him.

The 33 year-old South African said he was upset with the outcome. “I’m very disappointed, I wanted to do well and give South Africa the start. We now have four matches left and we’ll take it one match at a time.” De Voest said.

“I had some chances in the first set that I didn’t take and I felt that was key in the match. As the match went on, I felt my opponent did start to play a little bit better and I give him credit, he came up with some great shots when he needed to.

“He was putting me under a lot of pressure on my serve because he was returning so well.”

De Voest said they would now have to dig deep to ensure they win the tie this weekend. “It’s an uphill battle for us because we were hoping and expecting to win my match, me being the number one player, unfortunately I didn’t.

“It’s a bit of speed bump for us, we hoped to be up 1-0, but it’s a team event and the other guys will come out and hopefully do well.

“I’m going to come out on Sunday and definitely give my best and put in a much better performance and hopefully keep the tie alive for us.”

Australian Open doubles runner-up, Raven Klaasen will partner Roelofse in Saturday’s doubles match where they will face Monaco’s Thomas Oger and Guilluame Couillard.

In the reverse singles on Sunday De Voest will be up against Benjamin Balleret while Nik Scholtz takes on Arneodo in the last match of the tie.