GLASGOW, GREAT BRITAIN: Great Britain go into the final day of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie with a 2-1 lead over the Slovak Republic, while Slovenia and the Netherlands both sealed their passage into the second round.
In Glasgow, British pair Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins beat Michal Mertinak and Filip Polasek 63 76(4) 06 63 in two hours and 42 minutes to give the home side the advantage ahead of tomorrow’s reverse singles rubbers.
The rankings suggested the doubles rubber would be a tight affair and so it proved, with service only being broken once in the first two sets. The Slovaks fought back with some stunning play in the third set and didn’t lose a game, shocking the home support, but the Brits held their nerve and Hutchins served out the victory in the fourth set with an ace.
“It's our best [Davis Cup victory] for sure,” said Fleming, who has now won six of his seven matches in the competition. “It's a win in Group I. We've got aspirations of playing at a higher level still, but this was a win against a team that's well respected and they have got a lot more experience than us of winning big Davis Cup matches.”
Britain now just need one victory tomorrow to secure a second round home tie against Belgium, but are underdogs in both matches. World No.158 James Ward takes on Lukas Lacko, ranked No.65, before Dan Evans, ranked No.276, will look to build on his impressive straight-sets win against Lacko on Friday and defy another rankings deficit when he takes on world No.120 Martin Klizan.
“It may be a 2-1 advantage for Great Britain but it is still not over,” said Slovak captain Miloslav Mecir, who is hopeful that his side can mount a comeback. “It is possible. It can be all open tomorrow and it can be a very interesting day.”
The Netherlands secured the tie 3-0 against Finland in 's-Hertogenbosch with victory for Robin Haase and Jean Julien-Rojer over Harri Heliovaara and Jarkko Nieminen, and go on to face Romania at home in April.
Netherlands captain Jan Siemerink had made a change to his pairing this morning, replacing Jesse Huta Galung with Haase, while both Finnish players were returning to action after being forced out of the opening day due to injury – Nieminen could only play after receiving a cortisone injection earlier this week to relieve pain from a wrist injury.
Haase and Nieminen had teamed up with each other in the Australian Open men’s doubles, suffering a first round defeat, but friendship was put aside as they faced up to each other on opposite sides of the net, with Haase and Rojer winning 62 76(4) 62 in two hours and ten minutes.
Rojer was pleased to make a winning start on his debut for the Netherlands. This was the 30-year-old doubles specialist’s first Davis Cup match since April 2007 when he represented the Netherlands Antilles in Europe/Africa Zone Group II.
In tomorrow’s dead rubbers, Haase faces Timo Nieminen and Thiemo de Bakker plays Juho Paukku, although the captains of both sides may change their picks up to one hour before the start of play.
Slovenia will travel to South Africa in April after a three-hour 64 67(5) 64 75 victory for Blaz Kavcic and Grega Zemlja against Thomas Kromann and Frederik Nielsen gave them an unassailable 3-0 lead over Denmark in Velenje.
After straight-sets victories for both in yesterday’s opening singles rubbers, Slovenia captain Blaz Trupej decided to field Kavcic and Zemlja instead of Aljaz Bedene and Janez Semrajc, and the victory for the Slovenian pair means that 25-year-old Zemlja now has the record for winning most matches for his country with 28 victories in seven years.
“I am very happy with the victory in three great matches,” said Trupej. “The main goal of reaching the next round has been achieved and we will travel to win as losing means nothing. In a year’s time, our aim is to be in the World Group.”
Bedene and Semrajc will both play tomorrow’s dead singles rubbers, while Danish captain Kenneth Carlsen is yet to confirm who he will field.