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Zimbabwe's Davis Cup team relegated

by Staff reporter
06 Mar 2022 at 08:14hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE were yesterday relegated to the Davis Cup World Group III after a 3-1 loss to EL Salvador at Harare Sports Club.

A general lack of mental strength proved to be the Davis Cup team's undoing as first Mehluli Sibanda twice failed to close out the match during the third set of his tie against Marcelo Arevalo on the opening day of the contest. The youngster led 5-2 deep in the third set and then again 6-4 during the tie-breaker.

However, on both occasions he allowed his opponent to claw back and lost three match points in the process.

The loss meant that it was even-steven going into yesterday's round of play after Benjamin Lock had given Zimbabwe their first win on Friday. Unfortunately, things only got worse from that point on.

The Lock brothers, Ben and Courtney, lost their doubles match 6-4, 3-6, 2-6 to the pairing of Arevalo and Luis Miralles.

The home favourites started off well enough taking the first set 6-4, during which they broke their opponents in the seventh game and then served out the set.

That was to be the only joy for Zimbabwe as they lost the following sets 3-6 and 2-6, and were broken a collective three times by the Central American pair.

The older of the Lock brothers, Benjamin, then stepped up hoping to restore parity but again failed.

In the duel of the two sides' top-ranked players, Arevalo won the three-set thriller 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

With the match evenly poised at one set apiece, Arevalo and Lock held serve for the large duration of the third set, each coming close to breaking the other in the fourth and seventh games respectively.

However, it would be the visitors' Arevalo, ranked 660 as opposed to Lock's 520, who would have the last laugh as he broke his opponent in the ninth game.

There would no tie breaker, as he held his serve in the next game and with it the set and tie. El Salvado's unassailable 3-1 lead clinched it for them and rendered the last of the reverse singles a dead rubber.

Zimbabwe's Davis Cup non-playing captain Gwinyai Tongoona chose to look at the result as a glass half-full and concentrate on the positives. "Starting with doubles, I think we had a good start winning the first set, but dropped a bit and that's how the guys (El Salvador) raised their levels in the second set.

"Benjamin could have won his match or it could have gone either way, but, unfortunately, it didn't work out.

"I think we play in September next, and we will have to see where we will play and against whom," said Tongoona.

El Salvador captain Yari Bernardo was naturally happy.

"I feel happy for my players, especially Marcelo as he is our number one player and has been playing tough on tour," he said.

"We have a good team with a good number one and a solid number two player.

"However, Zimbabwe have four players ranked in the ATP world rankings, and so winning here is a good result for us.

"I also want to congratulate the Zimbabwean people, the crowd was incredible and so respectful," said Bernardo.

Source - The Sunday Mail
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