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14 September 2012

Belgium take a commanding lead


MATCH REPORT

By 

  • Richard Fleming

Photo: ImagellanDavid Goffin (BEL)

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Belgium are one win away from ending Sweden's 12-year stay in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group following opening day success for Steve Darcis and David Goffin at the Royal Primerose Tennis Club in Brussels.

Sweden are no strangers to overcoming such a deficit. On five previous occasions they have clawed their way back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 - more than any other nation, but team captain Thomas Enqvist is aware that his team has a mountain to climb.

He said: "We knew before coming into this match that we would need to play at the top of our levels to shake the Belgians.

"It's going to be hard. We're disappointed being down 2-0. My job is to motivate the guys tomorrow. We have actually won our last four doubles matches in Davis Cup so we've had a couple of good Saturdays. Hopefully we can have another one tomorrow to keep the tie alive."

Belgium have spent just a year outside of the World Group, and seem in a hurry to once again dine at tennis's top table.

Darcis said: "We're going to do our best to try and finish this on Saturday."

Saturday is when Olivier Rochus and Ruben Bemelmans tackle Ryderstedt and Johan Brunstrom in the doubles.

Belgium's grip on this tie follows straight sets wins for both Darcis and Goffin. Darcis took a little time to shake off Ryderstedt, 63 76 60, before Goffin doubled the misery felt by Sweden when he defeated Andreas Vinciguerra 64 63 75.

Goffin is playing in only his second-ever Davis Cup tie but got the better of a man playing his first match since last December.

In the day's opening singles rubber, Darcis triumphed in two hours two minutes, but it was not all plain sailing and involved a second set which went the distance.

Darcis: "I started very good and put him under a lot of pressure but the conditions were really tough - a little bit windy and the court was very slow.”

"He then put me under so much pressure in the second set, playing much faster. I was tight so tried to relax and play the way I'd played in the first set."

It was advice from team captain, Johan van Herck, during the second which gave Darcis the added belief that he could shake off his opponent.

Belgium's No. 2 explained: "The captain told me that 'you have to stay calm. He will not play like this all the match.' That's what I did."

So, the Belgian expected a drop in Ryderstedt's performance. Ryderstedt, himself, admits that it was consistency which led to his downfall. Having gone close in the second set, the left-handed Swede fell away in the third, losing it to love.

He said: "It's about keeping that level for the longer time. I wasn't able to do that today.

"Usually what makes the big difference in the rankings is the guys who can play at a certain level for longer periods during a match and during the year."

The second singles rubber had the ingredients for an intriguing contest. On the one side an up-and-coming talent in Goffin, against a player whose career has stalled the past six years due to chronic knee problems.

Vinciguerra, brimming with passion and desire, but short of competitive match action was always expected to come off second best against his younger, fitter opponent, and so it proved.

But do not underestimate the journey which has brought Vinciguerra to this point. Being out on court is a huge step toward resuming his career. At this point in time, though, that will be scant consolation as Sweden stares down the barrel.

* Vinciguerra, by the way, became a father for the first time on September 1. He joined up with his Davis Cup teammates two days later, and has not seen his son since.

He said: "Of course, I miss him a lot. It's tough but still I'm here and enjoy it very much.

"We have two more days to go. Keep working hard and then I will meet my family again so that will be nice."

Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live

Captain Johan Van Herck (BEL) - 14/09/2012

David Goffin (BEL) - 14/09/2012

Captain Thomas Enqvist (SWE) - 14/09/2012

Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE) - 14/09/2012

Michael Ryderstedt (SWE) - 14/09/12

Steve Darcis (BEL) - 14/09/12

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