WORLD No. 10 Jefferson Drake has showed why he is potentially the best five-set player in the world as he picked up a dramatic win over Jojo Mustard in the opening leg of the Davis Cup play-off round in Stedingham. On paper it was an interesting match with Mustard, in front of a home crowd, a French Open quarter finalist despite his recent poor form. In a tense start, both players traded breaks before settling into a serving rhythm on the red clay in a brutal baseline war. But the aggressive Drake managed to earn a decisive break of service after fighting off three break points in the previous game at 6-5 to capture the set 7-5.
The second set, though, was completely different as Mustard lifted his game and shaked off criticisms that he is too much of a pusher in singles tennis. Breaking twice, he closed out the set 6-2 and set about trying to take a lead in the third set. That didn't happen, though, and Drake suddenly leapt from a break down at 0-1 to 4-1 before Mustard could even begin to press his newfound advantage. A third serivce break of the set gave him a two sets to one lead and put him on the verge of a fourth Davis Cup singles win.
But the momentum swung again, and a double fault at 1-1 saw Drake drop service for the first time in over a set and a nervous Mustard hung on to his own serve to lead 3-1. Drake threw everything he could at Mustard until 2-4, before a sense of inevitability came over him and he conserved energy for a fifth and final set. It was not a bad move either, as Drake already had the advantage of being unbelievably experienced in matches that go the distance with a fantastic record of 7-1. Mustard was not, however, going to be the one to make it 7-2 as Drake produced a gutsy display to break once and then again at match point to give the East CWLand team an early 1-0 lead.
This afternoon, World No. 5 Sven Oxenstierna looks to hit back for the West as he takes on World No. 16 Randy Smeltz.
(4-1DC, 4-1S) def. Jojo Mustard
(1-1DC, 0-1S, 1-0D), 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4