15 September 2013

Darcis completes Belgian comeback


By Ori Lewis

Photo: ImagellanTeam Belgium celebrate

ANTWERP, BELGIUM: Steve Darcis romped home to victory against Amir Weintraub to book Belgium a place in the 2014 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group, taking victory 62 62 62 in one hour 42 minutes.

Bemelmans had earlier put Belgium back on level terms at 2-2 to send the tie into a deciding rubber after the two sides returned to the court having taken Saturday off as the Israelis marked Yom Kippur.

Bemelmans was the steadier player throughout despite a lapse in the second set as he beat Israeli No. 1 Dudi Sela 75 36 60 64.

Darcis and Weintraub displayed some tremendous power hitting on both flanks by both players, but Darcis managed to dominate the rallies and saw off the first set 62 in 32 minutes as Weintraub's error count went over the two-dozen mark. He hit 15 forced and 10 unforced errors. In similar fashion to Sela, he also lost his serve three times while managing to break Darcis only once.

Weintraub lost his serve three more times in the second set compared to Darcis's one and Belgium were clearly in the driving seat by this time.

Try all he might, Weintraub did not have the ability to stay with Darcis as the match drew to its conclusion and just two breaks of serve were needed to secure the victory.

It was a perfect weekend for the Belgian No. 2 who had caused one of the upsets of the year in June when he knocked out Rafael Nadal in the first round at Wimbledon.

Israeli captain Eyal Ran said there was no way his players could have got past Darcis on the form he displayed.

"We just could not penetrate him," he said.

Darcis said he had "played great" and was happy with the fact that there was a rest day in the middle of the tie. That was something that Belgian captain Johan van Herck also dwelled upon in the post-match interviews.

"I think Yom Kippur helped us greatly because we had an extra day off and we could discuss our situation, it was how we could get Ruben [Bemelmand] to where he was today and it was the vital win," he said.

Ruben Bemelmans had earlier put Belgium back on level terms at 2-2 on Sunday to send the tie into a deciding rubber after the two sides returned to the court having taken Saturday off for observation of Yom Kippur. Bemelmans was the steadier player
throughout despite a lapse in the second set as he beat Israeli No. 1 Dudi Sela 75 36 60 64.

The Belgian No. 1 lost his serve three times in the first set but was fortunate that his Sela's serve was even more shaky and he lost his four times. Sela seemed a little more composed in the second set and held his serve more easily, breaking
Bemelmans in the fourth game when the Belgian double faulted to take it on his third set point. Sela's intensity dropped dramatically in the third set as Bemelmans broke Sela three times and raced to victory in 30 minutes without dropping a set.

Bemelmans continued to look very solid from the baseline while Sela's shaky serve deserted him again in the sixth game of the fourth set as the Belgian took a 4-2 lead. Sela held his next service game and then broke Bemelmans to cancel out the
Belgian's advantage with a lucky net cord as the ball trickled over the net, saving two match points in the process but Bemelmans was not to be outdone and he won the match by breaking Sela for the ninth time in the match after it appeared that
the Israeli might be regaining some momentum to get back into the match.

At No. 155 in the world, Bemelmans is ranked significantly lower than Sela, No. 85, and the Israeli's upset victory made up for his last gasp five-set defeat to Weintraub in the second rubber on Thursday. Israel went on to edge Friday’s doubles rubber in another five-set rollercoaster for a 2-1 lead in the tie ahead of Sunday's matches.

He said he had worked to a tactical plan that had paid off against the veteran Israeli.

"The plan was to attack him all the time and not to let him gain a rhythm, I don't think he managed to hit two consecutive balls of the same type, I put a lot of pressure on him," Bemelmans said.

A dejected Sela said he had played terribly and admitted that he did not like competing on clay.

"I played terribly, I tried many things but I was really bad ... it is really hard for me to play on clay, I didn't play on clay for two years and with the added pressure of Davis Cup it is even more difficult for me," Sela said.

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

David Goffin (BEL)

Steve Darcis (BEL)

Johan Van Herck (BEL)

Captain Eyal Ran (ISR) - 15/09/2013

Amir Weintraub (ISR) - 15/09/2013

Dudi Sela (ISR) - 15/09/2013

Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) - 15/09/2013

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    • Team Belgium celebrateThe Belgian team celebrates victory
    • Team Belgium celebrateTeam Belgium celebrate
    • Team Belgium celebrateSteve Darcis (BEL)
    • Steve Darcis (BEL)Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
    • Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
    • Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)Lotto Arena, Antwerp, Belgium
    • Dudi Sela (ISR)Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
    • Dudi Sela (ISR)Dudi Sela (ISR)

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