Argentina and Croatia to Face off in 2016 Davis Cup Final
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2016 Davis Cup World Group semifinals saw two upsets, as Argentina and Croatia are set to do battle in the DC final after knocking off Great Britain and France in upsets. The World Group playoffs also saw a few upsets. Here is a recap of all of this weekend’s action.
Argentina d. Great Britain 3-2
Argentina got a huge boost on Friday from Juan Martin Del Potro, who stunned Andy Murray in a five set war, coming back from 2 sets to 1 down, to get off Argentina to a 1-0 start. Del Potro’s win was essential for Argentina to triumph, and he fended off Murray, and the Glasgow crowd in a thrilling opening rubber.
Guido Pella then followed up Del Potro’s win with a spirited performance to shock the favored Kyle Edmund in four sets. Edmund took the first set, but tailed off from there, and although Pella had a limited track record on hard courts, he didn’t appear fazed by the crowd, or Edmund’s game.
Team GB was on the ropes, but the tie would last into Sunday thanks to the Murray brothers beating Del Potro and Leonardo Mayer in doubles. After a grueling match on Friday, both Murray and Del Po returned to court, which was a bit of a surprise.
Murray got the job done vs. Pella in the 4th rubber, setting up Dan Evans vs. Mayer in the key 5th rubber, as Del Potro was skipped in favor of the fresh veteran Mayer. Evans fought mightily, but once again team GB saw their hopes slip away after taking a 1 set lead. Mayer battled back from a set down, and sent Argentina into the DC final with a spirited performance.
The Argentinian team showed great chemistry, while defending DC champions team GB looked lost all weekend, and simply ran up against a team of destiny in Argentina.
Croatia d. France 3-2
Croatia and France split rubbers on Friday, as was predicted, with Richard Gasquet cruising past Borna Coric, and Marin Cilic defeating the young gun Lucas Pouille in 4 sets.
From there the tie swung in favor of the underdog Croatians. Ivan Dodig and Cilic stunned doubles specialists Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in 4 sets, setting up Cilic to finish the tie off and send his nation into an unexpected DC final on Sunday. Cilic faced Richard Gasquet, who struggled, and the former Grand Slam champion won in straight sets, setting him up for a chance to add Davis Cup champion to his resume.
Lucas Pouille won the dead rubber against Marin Draganja, regardless, Cilic was the hero of the weekend, and will be likely to face off with fellow big hitter and former US Open champion Del Potro in the DC final.
World Group Playoffs
Switzerland d. Uzbekistan 3-2
An undermanned Swiss team pulled off an amazing road upset against Uzbekistan to remain in the world group. Denis Istomin won his pair of rubbers against Antoine Bellier and Henri Laaksonen, but Laaksonen and Bellier won both of their other singles rubbers against Sanjar Fayziev, and Jurabek Karimov respectively. The deciding point turned out to be the doubles, as Laaksonen, the most experienced member of the Swiss team, teamed with Adrian Bossel to beat Farrukh Dustov and Denis Istomin, both of whom have ATP experience. Bellier won a live fifth rubber to send France through, as the unknown Swiss player made a splash this weekend.
Belgium d. Brazil 4-0
David Goffin and Steve Darcis were all team Belgium needed, as they dominated Brazil, dropping just one set in their first two rubbers. Ruben Bemelmans and the unknown Joris De Loore combined to win the deciding doubles point, as they stunned Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares to clinch the tie. Both Thiago Monteiro and Thomaz Bellucci struggled for Brazil as well. Bellucci lost twice, as he fell to De Loore in a dead 4th rubber.
Australia d. Slovakia 3-0
Traveling to Sydney to face a solid Australian team turned into a nightmare for Slovakia, as Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic dominated Andrej Martin, and Jozef Kovalik on Friday. The Slovak team conceded the tie meekly to Sam Groth and John Peers, as they won the doubles point over Martin and Igor Zelenay. The Green and Gold are back in the world group, and look ready to do damage next year.
Canada d. Chile 5-0
Canada dominated a weaker Chile team to maintain their spot in the world group. Frank Dancevic and Vasek Pospisil both dropped sets against Christian Garin and Nicolas Jarry in Friday rubbers, but won anyway, and Pospisil teamed with Adil Shamasdin to beat Jarry and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo in a tie clinching doubles match.
Denis Shapovalov made his DC debut as a teenager in a dead 4th rubber, he dispatched Garin, while Dancevic beat Gonzalo Lama in straights to complete the sweep.
Russia d. Kazakhstan 3-1
Rain delayed the start of Russia vs. Kazakhstan, but it turned into home joy for the Russian fans as Andrey Kuznetsov came up big with a pair of critical wins over Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Mikhail Kukushkin respectively to take the tie. Kukushkin beat Evgeny Donskoy in the second rubber, but Andrey Golubev and Nedovyesov disappointed as they lost to Andrey Rublev and Konstantin Kravchuk in the doubles. The Kazakh’s veterans proved to not be enough.
Spain d. India 5-0
The Lopez brothers carried Spain as Feliciano Lopez beat Ramkumar Ramanathan, and Marc Lopez teamed with Rafael Nadal to beat Saketh Myneni and Leander Paes in a tie clinching doubles rubber. David Ferrer snuck in an expected 2nd rubber win over Saketh Myneni, and he also beat Ramanathan, while Marc Lopez beat Sumit Nagal in dead rubbers. India put on a good showing, but they had no chance against an ATP quality Spanish team.
Germany d. Poland 3 -2
Jan-Lennard Struff was the hero for Germany, as his five set win over Kamil Majchrzak, and his three set win over Hubert Hurkacz carried the day for the German team over their Polish neighbors. Florian Mayer also beat Hurkacz, but wins by Majchrzak over Mayer on Sunday, and Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski over Daniel Brands and Daniel Masur in Saturday doubles kept Poland alive. It fell on Struff’s shoulders to get the critical fifth win, and he came through.
Japan d. Ukraine 5-0
Taro Daniel and Yoshihito Nishioka beat Sergiy Stakhovsky and Illya Marchenko right off the bat to put Japan 2-0 up before Kei Nishikori even took the court. Japan saved their #1 to clinch the tie, and with Yuichi Sugita they won the doubles and the tie over Artem Smirnov and Stakhovsky, who continues to struggle.
Daniel and Nisihoka finished out the sweep with dead rubber wins over Smirnov and Danylo Kalenichenko.