Lisbon, Portugal – The Portuguese Davis Cup team took full advantage of playing their tie at home against KIA South Africa this weekend.
The slow red clay of the host club CIF-Club Internacional De Foot-Ball in the heart of the capital Lisbon made it tough for the South African’s to have any real chance of victory over the Portuguese.
Portugal scored victory over South Africa when their doubles team of Joao Sousa and Gastao Elias upset the fancied South African outfit of Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse 6-4 6-7(4) 6-2 on Saturday. The doubles rubber win gave the hosts a 3-0 victory over the visitors.
“It was tough conditions out there” admitted Klaasen following their loss. “The court certainly was prepared well by the Portuguese to suit their games and with the capacity crowd behind them it made it tough today.”
“But we had our chances and felt we were playing well enough to win the rubber but Joao and Gastao were just too strong.”
Roelofse agreed with Klaasen. “The conditions certainly were tough, but we had our chances, it’s just that the Portuguese played the big points better and never let us find our rhythm. It’s never easy losing in Davis Cup.”
It was the first Davis Cup doubles loss for Roelofse in the 13 rubbers played and the first loss for Klaasen and Roelofse playing as a team.
On Friday, Portugal got off to a flying start when they won both their singles rubbers without dropping a set.
Pedro Sousa beat Lloyd Harris 6-1 6-1 in the opening singles rubber and then Portuguese number one, Joao Sousa gave his country the crucial second point when he beat Nik Scholtz 6-3 6-2.
Both team captains agreed to play one reverse singles rubber following the doubles. Marcos Ondruska named debutant junior Philip Henning to do duty for his country who went up against Joao Domingues in the dead rubber. Domingues beat Henning 6-4 6-0 to give Portugal a 4-0 clean sweep victory.
“It was a tough loss and I am still trying to understand where we went wrong” said Ondruska. “I felt we played well but Portugal were just too good and played extremely well and used their home tie advantage to full advantage and credit to them for doing that. On paper Portugal are the higher ranked team, individually and as a team so it was always going to be a tall order to beat them especially away, but I did feel we had a chance and that the South African’s played well enough to win, the Portuguese were just better this weekend.”
Henning said that he was proud to have played his first Davis Cup rubber. “It’s very exciting to walk out onto court for your country and what a way to end my junior career by playing my first Davis Cup officially. It wasn’t the result I hoped for, Joao like his team mates played well but in the first set I was hanging in with Joao but then just could not keep the momentum. It was nevertheless a great experience and I am honoured and thankful for being selected and for playing.”
The loss puts South Africa back into Euro/Africa Group 2 for 2019 whilst Portugal survive the relegation play-off and remain in Euro/Africa Group 1 next year.
Photo credit: Bruce Davidson