AARHUS, Denmark – Denmark’s wily campaigner Frederik Nielsen turned out to be a class act as he ran out a 6-4 6-2 6-3 straight-sets winner over South Africa’s Nik Scholtz in the Group II Euro/Africa third-round showdown at the Ceres Park & Arena in Aarhus, Denmark on Friday afternoon.
Just over four years ago, Nielsen was a regular quarter-finalist in Grand Slam events, and as the rubber against Scholtz unwound, he showed just why he was once one of the world’s premier players.
He seemed to be particularly strong in the latter half in each of the three sets when he delivered breaks of serve with telling effect.
Scholtz, presently at 402 on the world rankings, didn’t roll over as he offered stubborn resistance throughout.
But he failed to exploit numerous chances to break serve, particularly in the opening two sets.
Nielsen is some 100 places adrift on the rankings but in the end, Scholtz could not string enough winners together to make an impact.
“I was up against a Wimbledon doubles champion today, and there were elements of doubles play that he used to good effect in our match,” said Scholtz.
“He did a few magical things out there, and even though the final scoreline looks like it could have been one-sided, it was not the case. He was just so good in these conditions.
“I had a few chances to break, but somehow he managed to dictate play. I tried to be aggressive, but he just kept coming at me. It’s hard to prepare to play against someone like him because you don’t know how he is going to play, and he has an extraordinary range.
“He did well to hit the ball early whenever he chose to, and there was nothing I could do with some of his return of serves.
“In the end, I didn’t just roll over. I kept on fighting, but I am disappointed with this performance. The good thing is that I know what must be done before we play the reverse singles.”
Scholtz managed to break Nielsen in the seventh game of the opening set, but at that stage, it looked like the Dane was merely looking to strike up a measure of cohesion, even though unforced errors crept into his game.
At the outset, Scholtz showed that his first serve would be his strongest asset and when Nielsen first threatened to break in the sixth game, he reeled off two aces to stave off the danger.
Nielsen dropped serve in the next game, but he snapped straight back with a break in the eighth to make it 4-4.
The momentum continued to be with Nielsen in the next two games, during which he showed some excellent touches to race to a one-set lead after Scholtz dropped back-to-back serves.
In the second set, the first four games went with serve and then Scholtz threatened in the fifth game, with Nielsen at 15-40. The South African watched the break points vanish into thin air as Nielsen fought back to hold (3-2).
By this time, Nielsen was well into his stride and he had a counter for whatever Scholtz was throwing at him, and he closed the set out in emphatic fashion with consecutive breaks for a 6-4 6-2 lead.
Scholtz spurned one break point at the start of the third set, but he wasn’t allowed into the match again.
Nielsen showed up his opponent’s limitations with an array of shots before he signed off a 6-4 6-2 6-3 winner, moments after breaking serve in the eighth.
African News Agency (ANA)