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Kenya storm Davis Cup playoffs

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By LOKEDER NATIOM
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Hosts Kenya on Thursday stormed the promotional playoffs of the 2019 Africa Zone Group 3 Davis Cup with a match to spare after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Algeria in their second pool B match at the Nairobi Club.

The result means Kenya is just one win way from securing promotion to Group 2 and Friday’s final preliminary match against Benin is a dead rubber.

However, a win will ensure the hosts secure top spot in the pool and face the runners-up of pool A in Saturday’s promotional playoff. Kenya are top of the pool with two points after two wins.

Kevin Cheruiyot was up first in the opening rubber against Algeria’s Youcef Rihane and the North African, would take it 7-6(5), 3-6, 3-6 to give his team the lead.

The match was totally different from Cheruiyot’s Wednesday performance where he easily outclassed his opponent from Madagascar.

Cheruiyot, currently ranked 2087 in the world, won he opening set in a tie-break but lost his stamina in the second and third set with weak serves and weak backhand stabs proving to be his undoing.

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“The match was not what I expected it to be after my easy win yesterday but it was a good challenge, knowing that my opponent was also a tough one, “said Cheruiyot.

The pressure was on Kenya’s top seed Ismail Changawa to put the hosts back in contention and he did not disappoint claiming a 6-4, 7-5 win against Mohamed Makhlouf. With the game tied at 1-1, it was left to the doubles contest to decided the winner and Kenya coach Rosemary Owino paired Changawa with Ibrahim Kibet instead of Albert Njogu with the stakes high.

And it proved to be a classic as the four players played their hearts out on centre court. But after 2hrs and 24 minutes, it is the the Kenyans who had the last laugh after triumphing 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4 against Nazim Makhlouf and Youcef Rihane.

In the other pool match, Madagascar saw off Benin 2-1 to record their first win of the tourney. With Kenya through to the playoffs, the race for the second slot in the group will be between second placed Algeria and third placed Madagascar who face each other on Friday.

In Pool A, Tunisia also sealed their placed in the playoffs after an impressive 3-0 win over Nigeria. Namibia are second in the pool with a point with Mozambique in third also in one point.

Namibia and Mozambique will be contesting for the second slot in the pool on Friday. Tunisia face Namibia, as Mozambique face Nigeria.





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