Lloyd Harris celebrating at the end of his Davis Cup win. Photo: Peter Heeger

CAPE TOWN – Lloyd Harris provided South Africa with the desired start with a 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-3 win over Bulgaria's Alexandar Lazarov in the opening rubber of the Europe/Africa II first-round tie in Newlands on Friday.

South Africa, who are seeded No 2 in this group with a No 44 World Davis Cup ranking, will now look to their No 2 singles player Ruan Roelofse to run with the baton in the final rubber of the day. He goes up against Bulgaria's No 1 Dimitar Kuzmanov.

Bulgaria are unseeded and have a World Davis Cup ranking of 64.

At the start of his rubber, Harris looked like a man in a hurry as he ran up a 4-0 lead in no time. He found his range almost at once and he deftly placed his early winners in the corners.

In his early service games, he produced bouts of serve and volley and looked well on course for a runaway win in the set.

However, Lazarov had other ideas and he came good in his third service game as well as the next two. In between, he added a service break in the 8th and the set was delicately poised at 5-4 before Lloyd closed out at 6-4 after 44 minutes.

It was nevertheless a fine performance by the 527 world-ranked Lazarov who was up against an opponent with a vastly better ranking of 113.

The second set was a closely fought affair and the outcome was in the balance right to the end before it was decided via tie-break 7-6 (7-3) just past the hour mark.

In the third set, Harris seemed less anxious and his big serve came to the fore. Also, he changed tactics and kept plugging away at Lazarov's backhand to good effect.

Harris' next match will be a return singles match on Saturday when he goes out against Kuzmanov who has a world ranking of 324. 

African News Agency (ANA)