Kenya faces Benin Saturday in a bid to get promotion to the Group Two of the Africa Zone Davis Cup competition after beating Algeria 3-0 Friday at Nairobi Club.
Benin and Kenya have had some interesting battles in recent times and the main focus of attention would be the match between top seeds Alexis Klegou and Ismael Changawa who both won their duels easy. Team Kenya secured top slot following their two singles and one doubles event win against relatively easier opponents following their 2-1 loss to Namibia 24 hours earlier.
In the first rubber, Kenya’s second seed Sheil Kotecha saw off Nazim Makhlouf 6-4,6-3 in a fierce encounter at centre court.
The first set was epic as Makhlouf managed to break serve of Kotecha as he found rhythm and forcing a tie of 3-3.However Kotecha recovered brilliantly pinning his opponent with fast balls from the baseline while at the same time closing out the spaces thus picking two games on-the-trot to take the set.
The second set also saw both players trade good shots between each other with the lanky Makhlouf powering in good volleys with his forehand. Kotecha on the other and despite being broken once covered the breadth and width of the court with well-timed backhand returns. His serve percentage was also superior as he put in five aces in the set to close the match out.
“It was quite tough because he beat me last time out so I had to come in mentally prepared. I knew the areas to play him which worked well enough. Besides, it was a must win match today for us so I am happy my strategy worked very well,” he told Wikendi even as his opponent bemoaned the state of the court.
Meanwhile, home hero and top seed Ismael Changawa recovered brilliantly from his unexpected loss on Thursday by trouncing Mohammed Hassan 6-3,6-0 in under an hour. Changawa was in absolute control as he pummelled his lacklustre opponent from all corners. His balance between pace and slow balls meant Hassan never really threatened.
The second set took only 18 minutes with Changawa not losing a single game to his challenger who appeared to struggle on the surface. “I knew I had to win this match but most importantly to play safe and save the last bit for the main day. It was great recovery from my end.” – —BARRY SILAH