CAPE TOWN – The Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Bulgaria is delicately poised after Bulgarian No 1 Dimitar Kuzmanov saw off SA's No 2 Ruan Roelofse 7-5 7-5 in Friday's second rubber of the Europe/Africa II first-round tie at Kelvin Grove Club, Newlands.
Earlier, SA No 1 Lloyd Harris needed an extra set to defeat Bulgaria’s No 2 Alexandar Lazarov 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-3 in the opening singles rubber.
Although Kuzmanov secured a straight-sets result, each of the two sets were hard-fought and went the distance before Kuzmanov intervened with winning touches at the end.
Late in the second set, Kuzmanov needed some medical attention for a painful knee injury. After the match, he said he had been nursing an injury in the days leading up to the match.
"It's no secret that I haven't played for two months because of injury," said Kuzmanov. "We (Bulgaria) took a risk with my nomination and we'll take care of my knee so that I'll be ready for tomorrow (Saturday)."
Kuzmanov was emotional at the end of his match.
"I have just come through difficult times, especially in the last two weeks. Davis Cup is intense and tricky and I was relieved to come through the match (without breaking down). It was emotional for me,” said Kuzmanov who will be playing Harris on Saturday.
At the end of the day's play, SA captain Marcos Ondruska said the scoreline was pretty much as expected.
"We have had two good singles matches and things ended as it should have," said Ondruska. "Lloyd (Harris) came out of the gate with incredible form and his opponent changed it up a bit.
"Ruan (Roelofse) came close and I commend him for the performance. He last played Davis Cup singles five or six years ago."
Roelofse went toe-to-toe with Kuzmanov for most of the way and had opportunities to change the eventual outcome.
"I created chances but did not execute well," said Roelofse. "It was a case of missed opportunities. It was a slow surface and I just did not always cover the right areas."
Harris praised his opponent Lazarov after their rubber.
"He was smart, and I had to work hard,' said Harris. "In the last while, I have been up against good players and it has been tough.
"I knew if I remained focussed, I could win the match."
Saturday's play starts at 9am with the doubles match.
South Africa will have world No 8 doubles player Raven Klaasen leading the charge and he will be partnered by Roelofse who has a fine reputation as a doubles player.
The Bulgarians have named Alexander Donski and Gabriel Donev in their doubles team. They will both be fresh because neither are playing singles.
African News Agency (ANA)