13 Jul Ireland suffer 3-2 defeat against Cyprus
Marcos Baghdatis proved to be the deciding factor in Group II of the Davis Cup Euro/Africa zone this weekend, winning all three of his rubbers to ensure that Cyprus won out 3-2 over a committed Irish performance.
However it could have been all so different for the Cypriots as Ireland’s Louk Sorensen gave Baghdatis a huge fright in the opening rubber. With Baghdatis just having returned from injury Sorensen saw this as his opportunity to take full advantage of the Cypriots lack of match practice. The 24 year-old Irishman fought tooth and nail for every point throughout the match and had a two sets to one advantage over the former world No.8 midway through the rubber. In a tense fourth set Baghdatis finally started to improve his game and gained the upper hand on Sorensen grinding out a 7-5 fourth set win to set up a grandstand fifth and final set. With Baghdatis slowly gaining momentum throughout the match and blowing off any match practice cobwebs that remained finally finished off Sorensen in the deciding set in a marathon tie ending 6-7(5) 6-4 3-6 7-5 6-4 in favour of Baghdatis.
Ireland were soon back on level terms in the overall tie as Irish No.1 Conor Niland had taken full command over Photos Kallias before the Cypriot retired with the score at 5-7, 6-3, 5-0 in favour of the Irishman. At one rubber each Day 2 would prove crucial if Ireland were to have the upper hand going into the third and final day, but once more the presence of Baghdatis allowed the Cypriots to go into Day 3 with an all-important 2-1 lead. Baghdatis partnered Kallios against the Irish pair of James McGee and Colin O’Brien winning out in four sets 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Baghdatis, the Cypriot talisman, was first out on court on Day 3 against Irish No. 1 Conor Niland. The Limerickman was faced with the task of keeping the Irish in the tie, and although starting positively to claim the first set for the Irish 6-4. The vast experience of the former Australian Open runner-up and Wimbledon semi-finalist started to emerge as he switched up through the gears winning three sets in a row to win the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 and put Cyprus into an unassailable lead of 3-1 in the tie.
Colin O’Brien brought the score to 3-2 in the dead fifth rubber of the tie with a competent win over Demetrios Leontis 7-6(2), 6-3. Cyprus now advance to the final round of Euro/Africa Zone Group II where they will face Finland in September. Ireland will remain in Group II of the Euro/Africa zone for another year after being knocked out at this stage for the second time in successive years.
For a full breakdown of the weekends Davis Cup from Euro/Africa Zone Group II results click here