Photo: Fred MullaneBrandon Laubser (RSA)
The sole focus of the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on Friday was on the 5-12th place play-offs but the quality of tennis and levels of excitement were in no way diminished. It was a great day for South Africa as they defeated Bolivia in a decisive doubles rubber in their 9-12th place play-off.
Things did not get off to the best of starts for the South Africans as Francois Kellerman lost the opening rubber to Bolivian No. 2 Stephan Koenigsfest 61 61. Brandon Laubser got the Africans back on track when he defeated Rodrigo Banzer 64 64 and the tie went to a deciding doubles rubber.
The two nations split the first two sets, Banzer and Koenigsfest took the first 63 before Laubser and Lloyd Harris replied by taking the second 64. The tie headed into a final set but even then it was not straightforward as the weather chose to play a part as the heavens opened mid-way through the set. The South African pair came out the better of the two after the delay and took the deciding set 64 to seal an excellent victory.
That was the only tie of the day to feature a doubles rubber as the other three were decided after the singles matches.
Top seeds Russia easily overcame fifth seeds Japan in their 5-8th place play-off. Andrey Rublev got the Europeans off to a flying start with an emphatic 62 61 victory over Yusuke Takahashi. Russia’s No. 1 Roman Safiullin recovered from his poor form yesterday to post a 64 63 victory over Jumpei Yamasaki which gave Russia the tie.
Fourth-seeded USA took on a France team missing their No. 1 in the second of the 5-8th place play-offs. Tommy Paul came through a tough match with 14-year-old Corentin Moutet 61 67(7) 62 to give USA the lead in the tie. Stefan Kozlov, who had posted an impressive victory over Australia’s Akira Santillan the day before, then easily came through his match with Mandresy Rakotomalala 63 62. Again, as the tie was already decided, and with the boys having played a lot of tennis over the last four days, it was agreed that the doubles rubber would not be played.
The other 9-12th place play-off featured Junior Davis Cup Finals debutants Norway who were up against India. Norway had posted their first ever victory in the Finals the day before and spirits were still high. Casper Ruud came through a tense match to put the Scandinavians ahead after he defeated Sahil Deshmukh 64 46 64.
Viktor Durasovic then had the opportunity to seal the tie for Norway and he did not disappoint. He easily overcame Sumit Nagal 62 64 to give Norway their second win of this year’s Finals and ensure they will finish no lower than tenth position.
Tomorrow sees the semifinals take place, as well as the 13-16th place play-offs and the ties to be played are as follows:
Australia  v Korea, Rep. 
Spain  v Germany 
Argentina v Mexico
Netherlands v Peru