World Group DC Semifinals Set: Italy/Switzerland, Czech Republic/France
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Czech Republic d. Japan 5-0
Radek Stepanek led the way as the Czechs whitewashed Japan, winning both singles rubbers on Friday in 4 and 5 sets respectively (Stepanek d. Tatsuma Ito, Lukas Rosol d. Taro Daniel) and then clinching the doubles with Rosol/Stepanek defeating Ito/Yasutaka Uchiyama for a 3-0 victory.
Rosol beat Uchiyama and Jiri Vesely beat Daniel in the dead rubbers to complete the sweet, as the defending DC champions earned a big road win and are into the semis again.
France d. Germany 3-2
France was nearly upset at home by an underdog German team that put up a good fight, but they managed to pull themselves together after an atrocious Friday singles to win a deciding fifth rubber.
Tobias Kamke upset Julien Benneteau, and Peter Gojowczyk played well above his normal level to defeat a struggling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 5 sets, 6-8 in the fifth. Germany had 3 chances from there to clinch the tie, but never came close to doing so, as Benneteau/Michael Llodra beat Andre Begemann/Kamke in Saturday doubles, in 4 sets, and then Tsonga and Gael Monfils beat Kamke and Gojowczyk in the Sunday live singles rubbers to clinch the tie. Both Sunday singles matches were straight sets, and not particularly close, as Monfils was a big injection of energy for the French team, and Kamke and Gojowczyk returned to their normal level, along with being fatigued.
A French team strong on paper, they will face the Czechs in the semis at home.
Italy d. Great Britain 3-2
In another near upset, Italy was put on the ropes by team GB but clawed back on Sunday for a big victory at home. Fabio Fognini was again the hero, as he won twice in singles, on Friday with a 4 set victory over James Ward, and on Sunday to keep the tie alive with a straight set drubbing of Andy Murray.
Andreas Seppi went 1-1 in singles, as he lost on Friday to Murray in straights, but clinched the tie with a straight set victory over Ward in the fifth rubber on Sunday. Colin Fleming and Murray won the doubles over Simone Bolelli and Fognini in 4 sets on Saturday to put team GB up 2-1 and a win away from clinching, but team GB was hapless from there on out.
Switzerland d. Kazahkstan 3-2
The Swiss very nearly choked in what would have been one of the biggest Davis Cup upsets in modern history, but they survived just like their French and Italian counterparts to prevail at home in Geneva.
Stan Wawrinka continued his string of poor play post Australian Open, as he lost in 4 sets to Andrey Golubev on Friday, and then lost the doubles with partner Roger Federer to Golubev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov on Saturday in 4 sets as well.
Federer was really the hero this time for Switzerland, as his two straight sets singles victories over Mikhail Kukushkin and Golubev on Friday and Sunday clinched the tie. Wawrinka kept it alive on Sunday with a 4 set victory over Kukushkin, credit to the Kazahks for battling hard in this one.
Switzerland hosts Italy at home in the semis.
Action Outside World Group:
Brazil and Colombia made their way to the World Group playoffs out of Americas Group 1, as Rogerio Dutra and Brazil beat Emilio Gomez and Colombia 3-1, and Santiago Giraldo and Alejandro Falla teamed up for Colombia yet again to defeat Victor Estrella and the Dominican Republic 4-1.
Asia/Oceania Group 1 World Group Playoff representatives will be India and Uzbekistan, as Somdev Devvarman led India to a 3-1 victory over South Korea, and Denis Istomin led Uzbekistan to a 3-2 victory over China, as Di Wu won twice for them but Ze Zhang couldn’t do the same in a super close, competitive tie that came down to a live fifth rubber won by Farrukh Dustov over Zhang in 5 sets.
In Europe/Africa Group 1 finals Marin Cilic and Croatia beat Jerzy Janowicz and Poland 3-1, as Janowicz was upset by the young and rising Borna Coric, Dudi Sela and Israel upset Blaz Rola and Slovenia 3-1, Sergiy Stakhovsky and his teammates gave Ukraine something to cheer for, as they beat Sweden 4-1, including a 13-11 final set victory by Stakhovsky over Johan Brunstrom in the first rubber and Lukas Lacko and Slovakia beat Dominic Thiem and Austria 4-1 to complete the world group playoffs participants.
In a couple of notable Europe/Africa Group 2 ties, Damir Dzhumhur and Bosnia beat Jarkko Nieminen and Finland 3-2 with a live fifth rubber, and Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania beat Rik De Voest and South Africa in the same fashion 3-2 with a live fifth rubber.