South Africa’s Rik de Voest outclassed Lithuania’s Laurynas Grigelis 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 2-6, 7-6 (4), to level the Davis Cup Euro-Africa Group Two, second-round tie 1-1, at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria on Friday.
De Voest took to the court in the second singles match with South Africa trailing 1-0 after Lithuania’s number one singles player, Ricardas Berankis, defeated Jean Andersen in straight sets, reports Sapa.
Berankis won the match 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-3, handing his side an early lead.
The first set was tight and exciting, with De Voest doing well to finish up tops in the tie-breaker, winning the set.
The Davis Cup stalwart mounted the pressure on the Lithuanian, who held his nerve to force the second set to a tie-breaker.
But De Voest proved too strong for the number two, overpowering him to win the set 7-6 (7-3).
Grigelis fought back to win the third set 6-2, taking the match to the fourth set where De Voest closed out the victory after winning the tie-breaker, to keep South Africa in the tie.
“I felt comfortable out on the court today and was happy to be able to dig deep and use my experience to make it through the first two sets,” De Voest said after the match.
“I had one lapse in the second game of the third, went down 2-0. That game just drained me, because I just did a lot of running and was tired.
“I regrouped and came out firing to close the match, and I’m happy to have taken the win in four sets.”
De Voest, who is playing his last tie for South Africa, said he was overcome with emotion while singing the national anthem before the match.
“It started when their national anthem started and it kind of dawned on me that this is the last time that I’ll sing the national anthem for my country as a player.
“Singing the anthem at the beginning it was fine, towards the end I was like, ‘this is it, it’s the end of my career’.
“I’ve always enjoyed singing the anthem for my country. It’s an honour as a sportsperson to represent my country and definitely there were a few tears towards the end.”
South Africa Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager said they were happy with the result.
“We knew Berankis was going to be tough to beat and we had to throw something at him. If we were 2-0 down it would be a different story.
Australian Open runner-up, Raven Klaasen, will partner Andersen in Saturday’s doubles match where they will face Lithuania’s Berankis and Grigelis.
In the reverse singles on Sunday, De Voest will be up against Berankis, while Andersen takes on Grigelis in the last match of the tie.