Davis Cup: Laaksonen gives Switzerland 1-0 lead over Belgium
LIEGE, Belgium (AP) Steve Darcis defeated Michael Lammer in straight sets in the second of Friday's singles to help Belgium level its Davis Cup first-round series against defending champion Switzerland.
Darcis played aggressively from the start and saved the five break points he faced to produce a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory against the only remaining member from the champion Swiss team. Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are skipping this best-of-five series after leading their country to its first title in 2014.
Belgium was also missing its top player after David Goffin withdrew because of a back injury. The 21st-ranked Goffin could be fit in time to play in Sunday's reverse singles.
Earlier, Henri Laaksonen rallied from two sets down to beat Ruben Bemelmans and give the defending champions a 1-0 lead.
''It was difficult to believe that I would be able to turn it around, but I felt more comfortable the longer the match went,'' Laaksonen said.
The 344th-ranked Laaksonen, playing in the team event for the first time since 2013, won 1-6, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 after Bemelmans started to cramp in the third set at the Country Hall.
''I felt good at training and I don't understand what happened,'' Bemelmans said. ''I was in control at the start, then I had cramps in both legs. I'm not injured and with some good care I could be ready tomorrow.''
Bemelmans and Neils Desein are set to face Adrien Bossel and Lammer in Saturday's doubles.
Laaksonen improved as the match went on while the 132th-ranked Bemelmans struggled to move and to chase balls. He tried to shorten the points, only to be punished at the net by his opponent's passing shots.
''I think 1-1 is a good score for us,'' Swiss captain Luthi said. "I always want to win all the matches but unfortunately that's not possible. It was a great comeback from Henri so we're really happy with that, and I think Darcis was just too good today.''