Germany Upsets Spain, Britain Topples USA, Switzerland Smashes Serbia: 2014 Davis Cup WG Round 1 Review
World Group Round 1:
Czech Republic d. Netherlands 3-2
Robin Haase upset Radek Stepanek to give the Dutch a 1-0 start on Friday, but Tomas Berdych was the pace setter for the Czech Republic, as he destroyed Igor Sijsling to level the tie at 1-1. He then teamed up with Radek Stepanek to beat Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer in the Saturday doubles for a 2-1 lead, and finished the tie with another demolition, this time of Thiemo De Bakker for a 3-1 win.
Sijsling beat Lukas Rosol in the dead rubber to end it 3-2, but really not much in question in this tie.
Japan d. Canada 4-1
Kei Nishikori helped Japan oust team Canada with singles wins over Peter Polansky and Frank Dancevic, all without dropping a set, and a doubles win. He teamed up with Yasutaka Uchiyama over Daniel Nestor/Dancevic. That added up to the 3 rubbers wins Japan needed. Dancevic did beat Go Soeda on Friday, and Soeda won the dead rubber over Polansky on Sunday. This tie was never in much doubt, and Dancevic retired in the 2nd set against Nishikori in the crucial match.
Germany d. Spain 4-1
In the big upset of the week, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer were heroes for team Germany as they beat Spain 3-0 in live rubbers. Kohli crushed Roberto Bautista Agut and Mayer won a tough 5 setter against Feliciano Lopez, fighting through cramps, to give Germany a 2-0 Friday lead. Then, Tommy Haas/Kohlschreiber beat the talented duo of David Marrero/Fernando Verdasco in the Saturday doubles for the clincher.
Spain got a walkover in one of the dead Sunday singles rubbers and Daniel Brands swept RBA in the 5th rubber.
France d. Australia 5-0
It was a learning experience for the Aussies, as Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga schooled Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt, all in straight sets on Friday, and then teamed up to oust the Aussies for good beating of Hewitt/Guccione in the doubles on Saturday.
The dead rubbers were handled admirably by Julian Benneteau and Gael Monfils, who beat the young Thanasi Kokkinakis and Kyrgios respectively.
Great Britain d. USA 3-1
Andy Murray and James Ward were the heroes, while Sam Querrey and Donald Young were the zeroes for team USA. Murray destroyed Young in Friday singles before Ward came back from a huge deficit against Querrey to win in 5 sets. The American saw his level of play totally collapse from 2 sets up.
The Bryans beat Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot in the doubles.
Murray needed 4 sets against Querrey, but he played some exceptional clay court tennis in this tie, and helped Great Britain topple yet another cold streak in their tennis history.
The Union Jack is into the quarterfinals.
Italy d. Argentina 3-1
Carlos Berlocq gave the Argentines hope with an upset of Andreas Seppi in the first rubber, but Fabio Fognini would play the villain. He beat Juan Monaco in the other Friday singles rubber, then teamed with Simone Bolelli to beat Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank in the doubles rubber, and ousted Berlocq in the fourth rubber to clinch the tie. The 5th was mutually skipped by both teams.
Kazakhstan d. Belgium 3-2
The only tie this weekend to feature a live fifth rubber, Belgium fell short of the comeback on the road. They were down 0-2 after Friday singles with Mikhail Kukushkin beating Ruben Bemelmans, and Andrey Golubev surviving a barrage against David Goffin to win 12-10 in the 5th (saving multiple match points in that one).
Bemelmans and Olivier Rochus would help the Belgians keep the tie alive, winning the doubles over Kukushkin and Evgeny Korolev. On Sunday, Goffin beat Kukushkin in 5 sets, but Andrey Golubev shut the door on this tie, handling Bemelmans in straights to send the Kazakhs into the quarters and the Belgians into the World Group playoffs.
Switzerland d. Serbia 3-2
The Swiss mauled Serbia and won the live rubbers 3-0.
Roger Federer straight-setted Ilija Bozoljac, Stan Wawrinka beat Dusan Lajovic in 4, and Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer got together to beat Nenad Zimonjic/Filip Krajinovic in the doubles.
Lajovic and Krajinovic would beat Lammer and Chiudinelli respectively in the 2 dead rubbers, but this tie was never close at all.
Action outside the World Group:
Yuki Bhambri and India whitewashed Taiwan in Asia-Oceania Group 1 action 5-0.
In Europe/Africa group 1 action, Jerzy Janowicz and Poland beat Russia 3-1 on live rubbers and 3-2 overall.
Blaz Kavcic and Slovenia beat Portugal 3-1.
Sergiy Stakhovsky and Ukraine beat Romania 3-1 and Martin Klizan and Slovakia whitewashed Latvia 5-0.
In Europe/Africa group 2, Freddie Nielsen and Denmark beat Cyprus 3-0 on live rubbers and 4-1 overall.
Rik De Voest and South Africa beat Monaco 3-1 on live rubbers and 4-1 overall.
Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania blanked Norway 5-0.
Jarkko Nieminen and Finland beat Bulgaria 3-1 on live rubbers and 4-1 overall.
Damir Dzumhur and Bosnia beat Greece 3-1. Belarus beat Ireland 4-1. Moldova beat Egypt 4-1 and Luxembourg beat Morocco 3-2.
—Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast