Horna takes Peru closer to historic win
Luis Horna bounced back from two sets down and 42 in the third set to defeat Belarus No. 2 Vladimir Voltchkovby 36 67(4) 64 64 62, giving Peru a 2-0 lead and a giant step in their quest to enter the World Group for the first time.
The Belarusian has been playing Futures sporadically for the last year, and his ranking has slipped to almost No. 500 in the world, so his real level was an unsolved question before the match. The first set showed a surprisingly strong Voltchkov, sliding through the court like the most experienced clay court specialist, dominating Horna with his powerful forehand strokes. The second set, although tighter, showed more of the same: Voltchkov had 30 winners against only 9 from his opponent in the first two sets
Horna rallies before darkness falls
The third set was difficult for the Peruvian fans. Horna could not find his level and Voltchkov broke once again, and put himself two games away from winning. Then, Horna found himself, held serve and broke for the first time in the match, levelling the score. The crowd exploded, and the force of the impact was enough for another immediate break; the local hero won four games in a row and Peru was back on its feet.
At 2-2 in the fourth set, the cold, grey day and the long hours of play meant that the match had to be suspended due to darkness.
Horna a different player after restart
The restart featured very different players. Voltchkov seemed less focused, and clearly his shots had less power than the day before. Horna, on the other hand, had markedly improved his level, but was still having problems with short balls. There were a couple of breaks from each side, but Horna prevailed and the crowd went wild, to the annoyance of the Belarusian player, who more than once complained to the umpire for minor distractions while serving.
The fifth set was tight until Horna broke for a 3-2 lead. Voltchkov disappeared from the court, distracted and physically tired, and the Peru No. 1 secured four games in a row to increase Peru’s lead. After five hours of struggle, Horna climbed the seats to embrace his wife and daughter, and start a victory lap in the court that was noisily cheered by his fans but may prove to be too early, as three points are still in play and Belarus still has a chance to turn the tides in their favour.