Monaco triumph over Morocco in Davis Cup relegation battle

Monaco’s Davis Cup team hung onto their World Group II status after defeating Morocco 3-1 in their relegation play-off at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.

Morocco had not beaten Monaco since 1966, with the Principality side having won two of the pair’s previous three encounters.

The hosts were leading 2-1 heading into Sunday’s final singles rubbers after doubles duo Guillaume Couillard and Thomas Oger clinched a crucial 6-0, 6-7, 6-4,-6-2 victory over Lamine Ouahab and  Rachidi Younes.

It was left to Moroccan number one Ouahab to level the tie on Sunday but the Algeria native found himself up against Monaco’s most experienced player in the form of Benjamin Balleret.

Balleret, 32, had won 30 of his 49 singles rubbers heading into this weekend’s tie but went down 7-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 to Idmbarek Yassine in Friday’s opening singles rubber to leave the Monegasques up against it.

Arneodo Romain levelled the tie later in the day after battling back from a set down to defeat Ouahab 1-6, 6-1, 6 -2, 6-4, before victory in the doubles left Monaco in the driving seat.

Both Balleret and Ouahab had something to prove after losing out in the singles, but it was the Monte-Carlo-born player who emerged victorious, surviving a second set wobble to win out 7-5 4-6 6-3 6-4 and clinch his nation’s World Group II survival.

The defeat renders the final singles rubber between Romain and Yassine irrelevant and sees Mehdi Tahiri’s men drop into the competition’s fourth tier.