With eight matches being played, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group II was one of the busiest zone groups around, with the teams who will be playing in the third round of matches having been decided.
Three of the second round matches were fairly straight-forward, though the tie of the round was definitely the one between Hungary and Latvia which saw a terrific Latvian team come from two ties to love down to triumph 3-2! Led by talisman and Top 100 player Ernests Gulbis, who won his first rubber of the day to level proceedings at 2-2 against Attila Balazs, the Latvians were unstoppable and Andis Juska overpowered Marton Fucsovics in the decisive fifth rubber to provide Latvia with a memorable victory.
Ukraine recorded their second whitewash of this year’s Davis Cup as they defeated a Cyprus side minus the legendary Marcos Baghdatis. They will now play Latvia in September with the winners being promoted to Group I.
Belarus wrapped up their victory over Bosnia/Herzegovina when Uladzimir Ignatik beat Amer Delic in a tense match which ended up 76(16) 76(7) 64 with that first set tiebreak narrowly missing out on the record books. Belarus clinched the 4-1 victory when Dzmitry Zhyrmont defeated Damir Dzumhur 61 75 in the fifth rubber.
They will go on to play Poland who had already secured their place in the third round at the start of the day. Nevertheless, the crowd were treated to some entertaining tennis with both the dead rubbers being played and the nations winning one each. Belarus have never beaten Poland in Davis Cup tennis and they will face a stern test when they travel to Poland in September.
At the other end of the spectrum, the relegation matches were also decided. Well, almost. There is one exception in Egypt against Ireland which had to be stopped at 2 rubbers all with Ireland 2-1 up in the final rubber. Play will be resumed tomorrow morning. Egypt fans would have been enjoying the day’s play as Karim-Mohamed Maamoun prevailed in his 5 set match against Sam Barry.
Madagascar fans finally had something to cheer in their tie against Luxembourg when Antso Rakotondramanga beat Gilles Kremer in the first of today’s dead rubbers. They were then treated to another exciting match as Ando Rasolomalala took on Laurent Bram. Unfortunately Rasolomalala could not match the efforts of his compatriot as he fell 46 63 57 to Bram.
Moldova clinched an impressive victory in Turkey to survive in Group II for another year. Turkey levelled the match at 2-2 when Marsel Ilhan defeated Radu Albot 76(4) 62 63 to force the deciding rubber. And what a rubber it was, with Moldovan Maxim Dubarenko narrowly beating Haluk Akkoyun 62 57 61 36 64.
The final match in Group II was between Morocco and Monaco. Morocco started the day 2-1 up after winning the doubles yesterday but Monaco fought back, taking the first rubber of the day as Benjamin Balleret beat Anas Fattar 61 64 62 thus forcing the tie to be decided in a final fifth rubber. Jean-René Lisnard of Monaco was taking on Moroccan Yassine Idmbarek to see who would survive in Group II for another year. Lisnard took the first two sets 64 64 but Idmbarek then took the third by the same scoreline. The fourth set went to a tiebreak and, unfortunately for the hosts, Lisnard proved too strong, taking the fourth set 7-3 in the tiebreak and ensuring Monaco’s survival.