The final day of the Davis Cup semi-final between Great Britain and Australia, with the British team leading 2-1 after the Murray brothers pulled through in doubles on Saturday. Andy Murray had a chance to seal the tie in the fourth rubber against Australian number one Bernard Tomic in the first match of the day, and the world #3 did just that.
Murray d. Tomic 7-5 6-3 6-2
The sentiments before the match was that Great Britain had sealed the tie in the doubles. After all, Murray had previously beaten Tomic two times in routine fashion. Those thoughts looked to be coming true when Murray secured an early break of serve. The pair were hold all the way until 5-3, where the Brit earned the opportunity to serve out the set. Tomic applied the pressure and earned break point, which was saved by a big serve and forehand combination. Murray then had a set point of his own which was saved by an excellent running backhand pass. Murray would then surrender the break to get us back even. However, the world number three ramped up the pressure again at 6-5, getting to 0-40 on the Aussie’s serve. Tomic would save the first two set points, but on the fourth time of asking Murray was able to hit a drop shot that the world number 23 was unable to retrieve.
The second set went pretty much the same way, with Murray breaking in the fourth game yet again. This time, when asked the question to serve it out, he did not make any mistake. A love hold gave the Brit an unassailable lead.
It would take a minor miracle for the Aussie to get back into this match, and his effort showed. A poor game at 1-1 gifted another break to Murray and this match was all but over. A second break would put the match beyond any doubt, and Murray would serve it out to send Great Britain through to the final 3-1 in the tie.
“He’s a tough guy to play against,” Murray said of Tomic.
“He’s got incredible timing. He’s not the best mover but her reads the game very well, serves well. I think we have similar games in some respects. Sometimes when you play a similar game to someone, you don’t enjoy it because he changes the pace of the ball. But yeah, for me my game has just worked well against his.”
“He’s a very good player, an amazing player,” Tomic said of his opponent post-match.
“Today in the big moments when I had a bit of a chance, he was playing very well. I had a chance in that first set to take it to a tiebreak, but he played a very good game at 6-5 to get the break. He was making amazing shots and it shows why he is one of the best players in the world now, and one of the best defenders out there.”
Despite the tough loss to GB, Tomic remains positive about the future of Australian tennis and their Davis Cup prospects over the next decade or so. “We have a very good future,” the Australian number one said. “Nick, who missed out here, is going to help us in the future for sure. Our future looks very good, we have to remain positive and work hard. “There’s still a few months left of the season so I am going to push as hard as I can, and maybe reach the top 15 is my goal. I will be top 20 from tomorrow, so I am happy to make it to the top 20 and maybe in the next five tournaments I can push for top 15.”
It will certainly be an interesting future for Australia. Does Hewitt take on the role as captain?
“My understanding there is going to a panel,” said Wally Masur. “Lleyton I would suggest is going to be the next Davis Cup captain, but there is going to be a panel because everyone has got to have an opportunity. We have got some pretty good past players so everyone’s got to have an opportunity.” Meanwhile, Hewitt himself is unsure on whether he will take the reins of captain next year. “I haven’t really thought about it,” Hewitt said.
“I tried to do as much as I can playing wise whilst I can still run around and compete with these guys. With Pat and Wally this year we have still felt like I had to play a key role with the team dynamics, and added experience with the boys. “We will just have to sit down and work all that out.”
With Tomic, Kyrgios, and Kokkinakis they certainly have the talent to perhaps go all the way in later years.
Speaking of Kokkinakis, the 19 year old restored a little pride for his country by defeating Dan Evans 7-5, 6-4 in the dead rubber. The Aussie was in control throughout the match, even after failing to serve out the first set.
Great Britain advance to the final by a final score of 3-2 to face Belgium, after they defeated Argentina 3-2 in a live 5th rubber. That final will be played in Belgium in a couple of months.
2015 Davis Cup Semifinals and World Group Playoffs Preview Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A pair of semifinals take place starting Friday in the 2015 Davis Cup, along with the entire World Group Playoffs, with teams looking to move up to the world group or hang on to a coveted world group spot after an early exit in the world group main draw earlier on in the season.
Tennis Atlantic will have onsite coverage as Australia travels to Glasgow, Scotland a raucous Emirates Arena for a commonwealth battle with team GB. The British have Andy Murray once more on indoor hard courts, and presuming he’s in shape, it’s likely he’ll be able to win his pair of singles rubbers over Thanasi Kokkinakis and likely Bernard Tomic on Friday and Sunday. This tie should come down to the doubles, as Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt, the veteran rock of the Australian team, are set to do battle with either Dominic Inglot/Jamie Murray, or perhaps the Murray brothers, or Inglot/Andy Murray depending on what team GB captain Leon Smith decides.
Challenger tour level player Dan Evans was an interesting choice for this tie, and is likely to be an afterthought against Tomic/Kokkinakis in singles. With all that said, we could well be looking at Evans in a live 5th rubber, and I give Australia a slight edge in this tie with a strong doubles pairing as long as their team doesn’t implode with so many combustible personalities. Tomic, of course, has his problems with Tennis Australia for starters.
The Belgians get home court advantage and thus get to hold this tie on a favorable indoor hard court surface in Brussels. That fact alone makes them the favorite in this tie, as David Goffin and his veteran teammate Steve Darcis should be able to manage three wins in singles alone against the Argentina pairing of Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer that is scheduled for the singles rubbers.
Goffin has been in good form as of late, and Delbonis is poor on hard courts, though Mayer can play solid tennis at times and may have an edge over Darcis. In doubles it’s scheduled to be Kimmer Coppejans/Ruben Bemelmans against Carlos Berlocq/Diego Schwartzman, and given the surface, the Belgians also have an advantage there. In a surprising result, Belgium should see itself in the Davis Cup final, though they aren’t a powerhouse tennis nation.
India gets home court on outdoor hard but they face a Czech team with stronger players and more experience in Davis Cup. Yuki Bhambri and his teammate Somdev Devvarman, both of whom rank outside the ATP top 100 are expected to play singles against top 100 Czechs Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rosol while the veteran pairing of Leander Paes/Rohan Bopanna should have a minor edge over Radek Stepanek/Adam Pavlasek in doubles.
Vesely should be able to win both his singles matches, but look for Bhambri to potentially rise coming off of a challenger title. He’s a talented player and could shock Rosol in the opening rubber. With that said, the Czechs have a rankings and talent edge here and I have them pulling out a win.
At home on indoor hard it would be a shock if the Swiss won by anything less than a 3-0 sweep. That is due to the fact that the fearsome tandem of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are playing to keep them in the World Group against a Dutch squad lacking a top 100 player. The Dutch have underachievers Thiemo De Bakker, Jesse Huta Galung, Matwe Middelkoop, and Tim Van Rijthoven on their squad and they are facing a Swiss Goliath in this one. Barring an injury or change in the Swiss lineup, they should win this with ease, and Marco Chiudinelli and Henri Laaksonen will be able to get experience in the dead rubbers.
Italy has a solid veteran team but they do have to travel to Russia for this indoor hard court battle. Fabio Fognini, coming off his first hard court wins of the season in a strong US Open showing will look to continue the momentum against Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Teymuraz Gabashvili, and if he wins those matches, the pressure will fall on either Simone Bolelli or Andreas Seppi/Paolo Lorenzi to provide the tie clinching victory.
Rublev is a gutsy young gun battler and Gabashvili is a talented shotmaker at times, but outside of the combustible Fognini, the Italian team seems to have a consistency advantage on their side. Evgeny Donskoy and Konstantin Kravchuk round out the Russian team that will need a true team effort to pull this off. Bolelli could falter, but Seppi and Fognini should be good enough to get the job done and keep Italy in the World Group.
Uzbekistan has the huge advantage of getting to face team USA on red clay at home, and they could be facing a jet lagged USA due to the sheer difference in location. This is a tough test for American tennis which could see itself exiled from the World Group once more, if Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov can pull off an upset.
Team USA captain Jim Courier is going with some new faces on the team this time, with Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, and Donald Young joining veteran presence Sam Querrey. A lot of pressure will ride on Sock, who is the best clay court player on this team (he won an ATP title on clay this year in Houston) but is coming off of a heat stroke at the US Open, which could factor into his fitness. Istomin is a streaky player and Dustov is a challenger level player in poor form, so most likely Dustov will lose twice, and it may come down to Johnson/Querrey doubles to decide the tie. We could be looking at a live fifth rubber, but some how, some way, a unified Team USA should survive.
Outdoors on clay team Colombia will have a chance against Kei Nishikori and Japan, but presuming Nishikori has resolved the injury that hurt him at the US Open, the team from the land of the rising sun are favorites in this tie. The veteran pairing of Santiago Giraldo and Alejandro Falla, along with doubles specialist tandem Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah are back for Colombia, while Japan has Nishikori, the young Yoshihito Nishioka, Yasutaka Uchiyama for doubles, and Taro Daniel, who is solid on clay, for singles.
The Colombians with a specialist doubles tandem should win that rubber, and pressure will fall on an out of form Giraldo to snap his slump and get past the still challenger level Daniel, who poses a threat to him. Presuming Nishikori is raring to play, look for him to beat Falla/Giraldo, and a live fifth rubber could be quite interesting in this one, especially in regards to which player, besides Nishikori, Japan will nominate for it. Cases can be made for the speedy Nishioka, or Daniel, based on how Daniel plays on Friday, but in the end I don’t feel Colombia is in good enough form to win this tie at the moment.
Germany, even on the road on hard courts in the Dominican Republic, are heavy favorites in this rubber simply because the DR has no top 200 players outside of veteran wonder Victor Estrella, who isn’t in world beating form at the moment. The German team has veterans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benjamin Becker, with Philipp Petzschner and Dustin Brown for doubles. while the DR rounds out their team with Jose Hernandez-Fernandez, Roberto Cid, and Jose Olivares, an 18 year old.
Becker is in horrible form for this tie, and may lose his rubber, but Kohlschreiber and the German doubles tandem should be enough on their own to get the job done, as Estrella in his current form is not going to be able to do it all. I’m surprised Germany didn’t nominate Brown for singles over Becker.
Brazil gets home clay for this tie against European tennis power Croatia and if the veteran Thomaz Bellucci can step up, they may just pull off a big win over a weakened Croat team. Joining Bellucci are Joao Souza, a dirtballer, and Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares for doubles. Croatia matches with the young gun Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, and Franko Skugor for doubles, and Mate Delic as a second singles player.
Bellucci is in good form and should cruise past the challenger level Delic, while Coric presents a tougher test, but a winnable one all the same. Along with that, Brazil has a clear edge in doubles with their specialist pairing, and Delic should prove the weak link that sends Brazil through even though Souza is in abysmal form.
This closely matched European battle matches former Eastern Bloc nations on indoor hard court in Poland. Jerzy Janowicz, Michal Przysiezny, Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski, the latter two for doubles, make up the Polish squad, while Slovakia counters with Martin klizan, Norbert Gombos, Andrej Martin, and Igor Zelenay, a doubles specialist.
Like a couple of the other WG playoff ties, this one could go either way and the potential Janowicz vs. Klizan Sunday clash may be what swings the tie. Klizan should be able to beat challenger level Przysiezny, and Gombos is a close match for him, while Janowicz is the wild card depending on his streaky form. The Polish team likely has an edge in doubles, so if Janowicz plays well, Poland should win, if he fails however, the advantage shifts to Slovakia. Given home court advantage, I’m favoring Poland by a hair in this one.
Action Outside of the World Group
Relatively few notable matches will take place outside of the World Group semis and playoffs this weekend, but Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer have gotten the Spanish Armada back together again and should steamroll a weak Danish team in Denmark to hold onto group 1 status. Likewise Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania are sure to have an edge at home against a Ukrainian team that lacks their best two players. Joao Sousa and Portugal face Belarus, and Gonzalo Lama and Chile face Venezuela.
Round 1 of the 2015 Davis Cup World Group was filled with drama as it brought out the best parts of the Davis Cup, with upsets, comebacks from 2 sets down, and passionate fan support at sites around the globe as players donned the national colors and put in their best effort on behalf of their country. Here is a review of all the action over this past weekend.
Argentina clawed back from 2-1 down in the tie as they were pushed to extra time at home against Brazil. The Friday singles rubbers were split, with Joao Souza winning the first rubber in five sets over Carlos Berlocq, and Leo Mayer claiming the second rubber for Argentina with a four set win over Thomaz Bellucci. Brazil won the doubles as expected as Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares took out Berlocq and Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in straights.
On Sunday, Mayer led the Argentinian battle back, he avoided a collapse from 2 sets up and beat Souza in the second longest match in tennis history, it went over 6 hours as he triumphed on his twelfth match point chance 15-13 in the fifth set. Every set went to at least 5-5 as both players were, as to be expected, exhausted at the end, with Mayer having just that extra edge.
Due to that 6 hour+ match, the final decisive rubber between Federico Delbonis and Bellucci was pushed into extra time on Monday morning, and Delbonis, inspired by Mayer’s triumph, defeated Bellucci in 4 sets, as the Brazilian veteran was the weak link for the team this time.
Kazakhstan d. Italy 3-2
The biggest upset of the weekend came in Astana, as Mikhail Kukushkin inspired his lower ranked Kazakh teammates to a victory over an erratic Italian team that proved to be in disarray by Sunday. Kukushkin beat Simone Bolelli in straights on Friday though Andreas Seppi evened up the tie with a win over Andrey Golubev in 4 sets. The Italians won the doubles rubber as Bolelli and Fabio Fognini beat Alex Nedovyesov and Golubev in four sets, giving them a 2-1 lead.
On Sunday, the Italian choke job was on however, Seppi lost to Kukushkin in a very poor showing, as he failed to take even a set, and then Fognini made matters worse losing in five sets to Nedovyesov from 2 sets to 1 up, after he gotten it back to 5-5 in the fifth set.
It wasn’t the best attended tie of the weekend, but the fans who were in attendance were greatly pleased to see their home boys advancing as Italy will have to fight off relegation now.
The one-two punch of Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil was too much for Kei Nishikori and Japan. Though Kei performed well, beating Pospisil in straights on Friday, and Raonic in 5 sets on Sunday, the rest of the Japanese team fared poorly. Raonic beat Ito in a straight set drubbing on Friday, Daniel Nestor teamed with Pospisil to win the doubles point in five sets over Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama, and Pospisil dispatched Soeda in a live fifth rubber without dropping a set.
As mentioned in my preview, one has to wonder what might have been for team Japan if they had selected their young guns, Yoshihito Nishioka and Taro Daniel, rather than journeyman veterans Soeda and Ito, in my mind it would have increased their chances to win the tie.
Belgium d. Switzerland 3-2
The highest ranked player on the Swiss team, Yann Marti, stormed off and quit the team after he was not selected to play on Friday singles, and his selfish behavior may have cost his nation the tie, as the severely underdog, and shorthanded Swiss performed admirably, forcing a live fifth rubber to be played on the road in Liege, Belgium.
Henri Laaksonen deserves great credit for the fact the Belgians had to sub in their number one David Goffin, who originally wasn’t planning to play, in order to finish off that fifth rubber. Laaksonen was responsible for both Swiss rubber wins, as he beat Ruben Bemelmans on Friday from 2 sets to love down, Bemelmans collapsing down the stretch, and then beat Steve Darcis in the fourth rubber, also in five sets, as he outlasted the veteran serve and volleyer.
The Belgians earned wins from Darcis over Michael Lammer on Friday, from Bemelmans and Niels Desein over Adrian Bossel and Lammer in Saturday doubles, and as mentioned from Goffin over Bossel in straights, as Belgium had to scratch and claw against a journeyman team to book their place in the quarterfinals.
Australia d. Czech Republic 3-2 (3-1 live rubbers)
Team Australia did have to play live rubber tennis on Sunday, but they were the better team all weekend against the Czechs. Thanasi Kokkinakis added yet another massive accomplishment in his burgeoning career, the young Aussie was selected to open the tie for the Aussies, and he pulled off a brilliant fight back against Lukas Rosol from 2 sets to love down, to give Australia a 1-0 start. Kokkinakis struggled to deal with Rosol’s ballbashing for the first two frames, but won the final three sets 7-5 7-5 6-3, with late breaks sets 3 and four, to grab the victory, never losing belief in himself, as Rosol’s own belief eventually wilted. Bernard Tomic followed up the Kokkinakis triumph with a routine win over fellow young gun Jiri Vesely to put Australia 2-0 up.
The Czechs forced the Aussies to close off the tie on Sunday with an upset win in the doubles by Vesely and Adam Pavlasek over Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt in five sets, but Tomic secured the tie, defeating a struggling Rosol in straight sets in the fourth rubber.
The dead rubber was won by Jan Mertl to conclude the tie at 3-2 in favor of Australia, Mertl dispatching Sam Groth, who appeared to be ready to board his airplane.
France d. Germany 3-2 (3-0 live rubbers)
France got off to a great start and won their tie on Saturday against Germany, Gilles Simon had to survive an onslaught against Jan-Lennard Struff in the opening rubber, finally sneaking past the pesky Germany 10-8 in the fifth, but it was much easier for Gael Monfils, who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in straights, and also for Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau, who secured the tie with a win in Saturday doubles over Benjamin Becker and Andre Begemann.
Kohlschreiber and Struff beat Simon and Mahut in the dead rubbers to conclude the tie at 3-2 in favor of the French.
Borna Coric lost a 2 sets to love lead against Viktor Troicki in the second Friday singles rubber, and that was the primary contributing factor to the Serbian sweep over the Croatian team. Novak Djokovic beat Mate Delic, and as mentioned, Troicki beat Coric in 5 sets. Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic locked the result of the tie on Saturday with a win over Marin Draganja and Franko Skugor in doubles.
Filip Krajinovic and Troicki won the dead rubbers over Skugor and Delic.
The quarterfinals in the World Group will feature France traveling to face Great Britain, Kazakhstan traveling to face Australia, Serbia going to Argentina and Canada heading to Belgium.
Action Outside The World Group
Santiago Giraldo and Colombia beat Pablo Cuevas and Uruguay 3-2, the inspiring Victor Estrella led the Dominican Republic past Barbados with a pair of wins and a 3-2 overall result, Michael Venus and New Zealand beat China 4-1.
In Europe, Russia beat Denmark 4-1 as Andrey Kuznetsov won two singles rubbers, Austria scratched past Sweden 3-2, from 1-2 down going into play on Sunday. Elias Ymer shocked Jurgen Melzer for a Friday singles win, but he couldn’t defeat Andreas Haider-Maurer on Sunday, and Gerald Melzer secured the tie with a fifth rubber win. Gerald chosen to start over his older, more accomplished brother Jurgen.
Martin Klizan went 3-0 between singles and doubles as Slovakia blanked Slovenia 5-0, Romania demolished Israel 5-0, as Marius Copil and Adrian Ungur both won twice, and Poland beat Lithuania 3-2, as Jerzy Janowicz scored two singles wins.
In group 2 action, the young Chilean squad swept Peru 5-0, Turkey beat South Africa 3-2 as Cem Ilkel, a 19 year old ranked outside of the worlds top 400 beat Ruan Roelofse 6-4 in the fifth set, and Marsel Ilhan scored two wins in singles. Last but not least, Joao Sousa led Portugal to a 4-1 win over Morocco.
Andy Murray Clinches Victory for Team GB in Glasgow in @Daviscup Action vs. USA Joe Craven for Tennis Atlantic
British number one Andy Murray ensured the pressure was kept off his teammate James Ward, by sending team GB into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup World Group with a 7-6 (4) 6-3 7-6 (4) victory over top American John Isner. Isner lost his second straight Davis Cup singles rubber, this time in straight sets fashion, though he came close to taking a set, and Murray was as calm, efficient and confident as he was on Friday when he dismantled Donald Young.
Despite the crowd doing their best to pump Murray up from the get go, it was Isner that was the better player for large periods of the 1st set. The American who was perhaps a bit too passive on Friday against James Ward, was able to play much more aggressive Tennis against Murray in the early stages of the match and kept things rather close. After serving his way out of trouble to hold for 2-1 in the opener, Isner gained an early break point opportunity in the very next game after ending a fantastic rally with a forehand winner down the line. This particular breakpoint was saved in style by Murray as he got on top of a competitive rally to end it with a forehand putaway. Murray was eventually able to hold his serve for 2-2 but the set continued to follow a similar pattern as Isner held with relative ease and pile the pressure on the Brits serve at every possible opportunity. Serving at 4-3 down in the set Murray had to save multiple breakpoints to hold, it was these moments he relished the most as he produced some his best tennis when he was up against the wall.
Murray was still struggling to hold comfortably and when serving to stay in the set at 5-4 down, some poor play from the Brit gave Isner multiple set points. However Isner was unable to take his chances and Murray eventually held for 5-5, much to the relief of the packed Emirates arena crowd. Fortunately for Murray he had no major issues serving to stay in the set at 6-5 down, holding to 30 to force a 1st set tiebreak. Isner double faulted in the very first point of the tiebreak to gift Murray the mini break and that was that. Some confident play from the Brit ensured that he stayed in control throughout the tiebreak it taking it 7-4.
The fashion in which Murray took the 1st set seemed to boost his confidence in the 2nd set and the Brit seemed less nervous than he did in the opening stages of the match. Isner was still playing some really good aggressive tennis but Murray was able to thwart everything that was thrown at him and hold his serve a lot more comfortably than he did in the 1st set, this seemed to awake the 7,700 capacity crowd who were making some deafening noise after every point Murray won. At 3-2 up in the third set Murray really began to step up the pressure on the Isner serve, a brilliant return forced an error from Isner to give Murray his first break point of the match . What followed was simply wonderful, after drawing Isner into the net Murray was able to hit a stunning lob over the giant American to give himself the break and a 4-2 lead in the set. An errant service game from Isner was all it was needed for Murray to take full control of the set, and the Brit showed no signs of nerve as he sealed the 6-3 with a hold to love.
In the opening game of the 3rd set, Murray found himself with three break points after piling pressure on the Isner serve with some brilliant returns. The American might well have given up at this point considering he faced the task of coming from two sets to love down to keep USA in the tie. However, he held firm and with some brilliant serving he won four points in a row and managed to hold for a 1-0 lead in the 3rd set. In the game that followed Isner even had half a chance on the Murray serve as he brought him to deuce with some aggressive Tennis, but some clutch play from Murray once again allowed him to hold for 1-1. After missing the opportunity to break Isner in the first game of the set, Murray cast a rather frustrated figure, berating himself on multiple occasions and even screaming “NO” when he was unable to return an Isner serve.
Murray was able to conjure up half a chance on the Isner serve at 4-4 with a nice forehand pass getting him to 30-30 in the game, however Isner fired down two booming aces in a row to hold for 5-4, much to the frustration of Murray who would now have to serve to stay in the set. Murray did experience a bit of a trouble serving to stay in the set, finding himself 0-30 down, but some accurate serving got him out of trouble as he won four straight points to hold. Isner replied with another hold of his own for a 6-5 lead, forcing Murray to serve to stay in the set once more, this time he had no trouble, holding to love to send the set into a tiebreak much to the delight of the packed out crowd who by this point were stamping their feet on the floor to make even more noise.
The finishing line was in sight for Murray and early on in the tie break he was able to get a mini break to go 3-1 up after ending up wonderfully crafted point with a smash winner. Isner was fading fast and at 5-2 down in the breaker he dumped a tired looking back into the net, giving Murray four match points. Two of the match points were saved by Isner but on his third match point Murray hit an ace out wide to secure a straight sets win, sending the packed out crowd wild. Isner looked to be an emotional wreck after he match, nearly in tears, and emotionally spent, while Murray truly looked delighted to have helped his nation win in what was a home event for him in his Scottish homeland, he truly enjoyed the entire Davis Cup experience this week, showing great chemistry with his coach Leon Smith, his brother Jamie of course, and his other teammates James Ward and Dom Inglot.
Murray’s win had ensured victory for Great Britain, giving them an unassailable 3-1 lead. The tie eventually ended 3-2 to Great Britain with the USA’s Donald Young beat Great Britain’s James Ward despite winning one less game. Ward retired at 7-5 0-1 up, citing a sore knee. It was most likely just a precautionary measure from the Brit, who is due to play Indian Wells qualifying on Tuesday.
USA-Great Britain Renew Davis Cup Rivalry in Glasgow, Joe Craven Previews Joe Craven for Tennis Atlantic
The Draw being Made
Hello, my name is Joe Craven and over the next few days I’ll be providing Tennis Atlantic with on-site credentialed coverage from The Davis Cup World Group tie between Great Britain and The USA. Tennis Atlantic is one of the select few USA based media outlets to have a credentialed journalist in Glasgow for the tie.
The tie will take place at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on indoor hard court, and it will be the 20th meeting between the two founding nations of The Davis Cup with USA currently leading the head to head 11-8. The two teams last faced in the 1st round of the World Group last year. That tie took place on clay in San Diego, with Great Britain winning the meeting 3 rubbers to 1. The last time Great Britain beat USA on home soil was back in 1935, so that should give USA some confidence as they look to quickly avenge last years loss.
The Bryans, Isner and Young make up team USA
Team GB, captained by Leon Smith, consists of Andy Murray, James Ward, Jamie Murray and Dominic Ingot, with Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund as the next generation hitting partners. Team USA, captained by Jim Courier, consists of John Isner, Donald Young, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, with junior sensations Francis Tiafoe and Stefan Kozlov as hitting partners.
Team GB, Murray brothers, Ward and Inglot
The draw for the tie took place today and the order of play is as follows:
Day 1 – Andy Murray vs Donald Young followed by John Isner vs James Ward
Day 2 – Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan vs Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot
Day 3 – Andy Murray vs John Isner followed by Donald Young vs James Ward
Play will begin at 1pm GMT each day.
Day 1 Preview and picks
Donald Young (Photo: Chris Levy @Tennis_Shots for TennisEastCoast.com)
A. Murray vs. Young
Murray heads into this match with 7-0 win/loss in Davis Cup singles matches on Hard Court, his overall Davis Cup singles record is 19-2. Young has only played a Davis Cup match once, losing to Murray last year in straight sets on the clay in San Diego. Given Murray sets high standards for himself the Scot has had a less than ideal start to his season. Murray did make the final of The Australian Open where he lost to Novak Djokovic in 4 sets, but after this he’s suffered losses to Gilles Simon in Rotterdam and Borna Coric in Dubai.
Donald Young on the other hand has certainly had a good start to the season by his standards, the American reached the Quarter Finals in Auckland, the Semi Finals in Memphis and the Final of Delray Beach. Young’s 10-5 start to the season is the best start he’s had since turning pro and to put things into perspective it took him until June last year to notch 10 wins, whilst he’s already managed that amount of wins this year by February. Murray leads the head to head between the two 3-1 and as mentioned the two last faced in the tie between the two nations last year, with Murray winning that encounter in 3 sets.
After last years meeting between the two, Young will go into this tie looking to prove a point and given his recent form I think he will play Murray a lot closer than he did last year. Murray will also be looking to make of for his recent disappointments in Rotterdam and Dubai and is bound to step up his game in front of his home crowd. I think that this match has the potential to be the match of the tie and with both men having a point to prove we’re in for an amazing match. On paper Murray is the clear favourite, he has more a lot more Davis Cup experience than Donald Young and has had a far superior career to the American.
However, Young does hold a win over Murray and his fantastic form so far this season should give him a lot of confidence going into this match. Young’s serve has probably been the weakest part of his game so far this year, and with Murray being one of the best returners on tour.
Young will need to serve a lot better than he has in the past few months if he wants to have any chance of winning this match. Murray stated in the post-draw press conference that he wants to ‘try and play the same style of match’ as he did vs Young last year in San Diego and plans to employ the ‘same tactics’.
Murray needs to be the aggressor in this match because if he shows up with a passive style of play it will allow Donald Young to execute his game style well and trouble the Scot. I expect Murray will win the match but it will be a lot closer than many people think and the Emirates Arena will be in for a great match to start proceedings.
Prediction: Murray in 5 sets.
Ward vs. Isner
Both Ward and Isner have some fantastic results in the Davis Cup and you could argue some of these results were the best of each players respective careers. Isner has notched Davis Cup wins over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Roger Federer all on clay, whilst James Ward came back from 2 sets to 1 down to beat Sam Querrey when Great Britain and USA met least year in San Diego.
Isner had to miss the tie between the two sides last year due to an injury and said in the pre-draw press conference that “it was tough to swallow”, he will certainly have added motivation to lead his team to victory this year and finally find some good form after a slow start to his 2015. Ward has also had a slow start to 2015, with a less than ideal 1-3 win/loss record. In the pre-draw press conference the Brit mentioned that his win vs Querrey last year was the “biggest moment” in his career and a win vs Isner on Friday would arguably be even bigger. The two have only met an official event once and that was at a Challenger in Savannah on clay, with Isner winning that match 7-6 (4) 7-5.
They also met at an exhibition event in Kooyong this year with Ward winning that match 3-6 7-6 6-2, although though it has to be noted that exhibition matches don’t really have any bearing on what the outcome of a Davis Cup meeting will be.
Isner is the strong favourite for this match, given neither man has shown good form this season you’d always back the superior ranked player to get the win. Ward hasn’t really had any recent results to suggest that he can pull off the upset here and the slow indoor hard court should suit Isner’s game, as it allows him to run around the backhand and hit forehands which is undoubtedly his biggest weapon outside of his serve. Of course with a partisan crowd behind him you cannot write of Ward completely and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he takes a set from Isner, but ultimately I expect the American to ease to victory.
Prediction: Isner in 4 sets.
Day Two Preview and picks.
Doubles Rubber (J. Murray/Inglot vs. Bryan/Bryan tentatively)
Whilst Leon Smith has named Jamie Murray and Dom Ingot as the doubles pairing to face The Bryan Brothers, many people expect, or rather want, to see The Murray Brothers vs The Bryan Brothers. If the two sets of brothers did face it would certainly be a fantastic spectacle in front of a packed Glasgow crowd and it would be the first time doubles pairings consisting of brothers have faced off at World Group level and the 6th brothers vs brothers match at any level of the competition.
The last meeting between two sets of brothers at any Davis Cup level happened way back in 2007 when Victor Estrella and Henry Estrella of The Dominican Republic defeated Marcelo Arevalo and Rafael Arevalo of El Salvador. Jamie and Andy have only played together once in a Davis Cup match, in which they beat Laurent Bram and Mike Vermeer of Luxembourg in a Europe/Africa Group 2 tie, however the two brothers do have experience of playing together every so often on tour and they’ve captured ATP 500 titles in both Valencia and Tokyo in the past.
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are the most successful doubles pairing of all time and have respective Davis Cup doubles records of 27-6 and 24-5. In the post draw press conference Andy Murray said that he’s “unlikely to play doubles” and whilst this might be a bluff by the British team as a whole leaving Andy’s inclusion in the doubles until the last minute, one has to assume that it will be Jamie and Dom that face The Bryan Brothers. Jamie and Dom have never played doubles together before and this, as well as the fact they are scheduled to face the best doubles team of all time, is probably one of the biggest obstacles they face heading into the match. Both Jamie and Dom have earned wins over The Bryans’ in the past with Dom notching two recent wins against the pair alongside main tour partner Florin Mergea at The Australian Open and again in Dubai. Jamie’s win against the pair came in 2013 at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston where he partnered with John Peers.
If the scheduled match up does happen, the Bryan Brother’s should have no issues in winning the match. The pair are used to this stage with over 60 Davis Cup doubles matches combined, they know what they’ll have to do to get the job done. The only chance Jamie and Dom will have of winning is if they have instant chemistry as a pair, whilst some first time doubles pairings do it’s never an easy task, especially in important matches like this. The British duo will need to feed off the crowd if they’re to have any chance of winning on Saturday, that is of course the selections remain as they are.
Prediction: The Bryan Brothers in 3 sets.
Day Three Preview and picks.
With my predictions so far I have The USA leading 2-1 going into the final day of the tie. These things are always tough to predict but I always like to be bold with my predictions because it’s no fun otherwise. Day 3 will certainly be an exciting one and will be a fitting end to what I think will be a fantastic tie.
Reverse Singles #1 (A. Murray vs. Isner tentatively)
Murray and Isner have met 3 times in the past and Murray has been victorious on all three occasions, with his last win over the giant American coming in a tight three setter in Cincinnati last year. Murray usually relishes these sort of match ups against big servers who don’t posses much of a ground game and I expect his best tennis of the weekend to come against Isner.
With Murray being one of the best returners in the game he’ll most likely have a lot of look ins on the Isner serve, especially given the current poor form that Isner is in. Murray should be able to bully Isner around the the court and punish him wherever possible, dictating the rallies from the get go. Of course, given Isner’s past Davis Cup heroics you can’t write him off completely but I’d be extremely surprised if he manages to do anything special here.
Prediction: Andy Murray in 3 sets.
Murray beating Isner on the Sunday would set things up nicely for a crucial 5th rubber, and what’s Davis Cup without a crucial 5th rubber?! The stage would be set for either James Ward to become Davis Cup heroes and give their nation the win.
Rubber 5 (Ward vs. Young tentatively)
If this match does take place, what a way it would be to end the weekend, both players are big underachievers in their careers, and whoever gets the win here would take massive confidence from it. In the post-draw press conference Young said that “he’s feeling a lot more confident than he was last year” and I think he goes into this potential match up as the slight favourite. Young still has some lapses in concentration and if this happens in a crucial 5th rubber it could be curtains for the American, especially against Ward who has relished being in front of home crowd before.
The two have faced just once before, with Young managing a straight sets win on the grass of Eastbourne in 2014. I don’t think that match will have much bearing on what happens on Sunday if the two do meet because Ward generally steps up his game for Davis Cup and Young is in much better form than he was last year. I think a match between the two will come down to some very fine margins.
Prediction: Donald Young in 4 tight sets.
Final Result: USA d. Great Britain 3-2
So there we have it, I have the USA beating Great Britain 3-2 in the tie which would see them avenge last years loss in San Diego. I think the tie could still go either way and it wouldn’t surprise me if the doubles nominations do change.
I hope you enjoyed my tie preview and I look forward providing Tennis Atlantic with full coverage of the throughout the weekend. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can tweet me at @prodigyrep
2015 Davis Cup World Group Round 1 Preview Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2015 Davis Cup World Group begins on Friday and runs through Sunday as the sixteen top teams in the World will battle it out to avoid having to fight against relegation, and, to reach the quarterfinals. There are at least two marquee ties this weekend, and six other intriguing ones, all but one of which take place on indoor hard court. Here is a look at all the action in Davis Cup this weekend, with an exception of one of those marquee ties, Great Britain vs. the USA in Glasgow, which our journalist Joe Craven will be previewing since he has media credentials and will have reports from Glasgow through the weekend.
Czech Republic vs. Australia
Australia, my personal favorites to win the Davis Cup this year, have a great shot at pulling off a road upset, and their case for victory is further advanced by the fact the Czechs lack their usual tandem of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek to lead their team in the tie. Berdych and Stepanek are filled in for by Lukas Rosol, and Jiri Vesely both of whom have Davis Cup experience, and Jan Mertl and Adam Pavlasek, who aren’t as experienced. Australia has Davis Cup legend Lleyton Hewitt, who is playing his final DC as a player, and will be taking over as their coach next season, leading a young upstart squad that has Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth, and Thanasi Kokkinakis all available to participate. On indoor hard, and home soil, the Czechs do have at least some chance, but Tomic has had a solid season, Hewitt always ups his game for Davis Cup, and Groth’s powerful serve is always dangerous on this surface. Vesely, and Rosol, the two players expected to play singles for the home team, are both carrying four match losing streaks going into this tie, and with form playing a factor, Australia could well blank their opponents, and at minimum should win 3-1. The young Kokkinakis will be serving as the #2 singles player for the Aussies, and should garner much needed experience.
France won this matchup last year, this year it’ll be on indoor hard in Frankfurt, and the French should still be favored with a team of Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau (a late addition), and Nicolas Mahut. With Mahut on the team as a doubles specialist. The defending Davis Cup finalists will be up against a German team led by Philipp Kohlschreiber, along with Jan-Lennard Struff, Benjamin Becker and doubles specialist Andre Begemann. With Simon and Monfils in better form than Kohlschreiber and company, 2 singles win are likely assured for team France. That said, the play of Struff, and especially Becker will be key if Germany is to pull an upset, both can rise to the occasion, with Struff having some of his previous best results indoors, and Becker in career best form over the past 8 months or so. I don’t expect it to happen, but the chance is there, and if Kohlschreiber was in better form, the German team would pack a stronger punch and this tie would be more of a battle, but as it stands France should get through something like 3-1 or 3-2.
The Pick: France
Canada vs. Japan
Japan won this tie last year, and Kei Nishikori continues to be the marquee player for them, but Canada should be favored given they will be on home soil in Vancouver, and have a stronger all around team with Milos Raonic joined by Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic, and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor. Outside of Nishikori, Japan doesn’t have another top 80 player with Tatsuma Ito, Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama making up the rest of their team. Personally I was surprised that Japan didn’t choose at least one of their young guns, Taro Daniel and Yoshihito Nishioka for the team. Raonic-Nishikori will be a quality singles rubber match, and Raonic won their meeting this year in a third set tiebreak in Brisbane, though Nishikori has a long term 4-2 h2h edge in their rivalry. No matter who wins that, Pospisil has to be favored to go 2-0 in singles, and Pospisil-Nestor is a strong doubles pairing, so look for Canada to win 3-2 or 3-1 no matter the efforts of Nishikori.
The Pick: Canada
Serbia vs. Croatia
If Marin Cilic, or even Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig, were able to represent team Croatia, this tie would be much more competitive, but as it stands, the Croats have no top 100 singles players besides the teenager Borna Coric, who is rising, and coming off a run to the semis in Dubai, but lacks experience. Coric’s “B Team” teammates are Mate Delic, Franko Skugor and Marin Draganja with the latter two expected to serve as doubles specialists. Serbia counters with a very strong team led by Novak Djokovic, who is joined by Viktor Troicki, playing his first Davis Cup in a while, having re-entered the worlds top 50 in singles, Filip Krajinovic, who prefers clay, and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, a battle tested veteran who helps anchor the team. On indoor hard, and on home soil in this battle of the Balkans, the expected Djokovic-Coric singles rubber should be fun to watch (though it may not even take place as it’s currently scheduled for Sunday), but Serbia overall has to be favored to whitewash their opponents 3-0 (and possibly 5-0) with Troicki and their doubles team both formidable.
This tie is perhaps the biggest toss-up of the World Group opening round ties, on clay in Buenos Aires, streaky dirtballers will be battling it out, and I expect a lot of 4 and 5 set matches. Argentina has a motley crue of mid tier clay courters with Leonardo Mayer, Federico Delbonis, Diego Sebastian Schwartzman and Carlos Berlocq, with their team having spent quite some time in Buenos Aires on clay, since this DC tie came right on the heels of the ATP 250 clay court event in Buenos Aires (where Berlocq made the semifinals). Brazil has the veteran Thomaz Bellucci, along with Joao Souza for singles and Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares for doubles. All of these players are notably streaky, and this will be a very passionate South American rivalry, with the dedicated fans of both nations assured to be rowdy, channeling the spirit of their battles in football (soccer). Even though Mayer isn’t in great form at the moment, the Argentinian team has more options in regards to Sunday rubbers, and overall slightly better form with Berlocq and Delbonis playing well, along with the home court advantage. I feel that will get through, either 3-1 or 3-2, with Brazil favored to win the doubles (Melo and Soares are a high quality pairing), and the pressure really falling on Bellucci to perform or Souza to pull an upset. I wouldn’t be surprised with a Brazil win but I can’t pick them this weekend.
This tie would would be intriguing and star studded if the defending Davis Cup champion Swiss had Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka again donning the national colors of red and white and representing their nation, but instead they will not be in Liege, Belgium this weekend on indoor hard, and journeymen have taken their place as coach Severin Luthi will be doing all he can to inspire his team of Adrian Bossel, Michael Lammer and Henri Laaksonen to pull off a miracle and prevent the Swiss from facing relegation in their next tie. Belgium counters with a strong core of David Goffin and Steve Darcis, one a top 30 player, the other a reliable veteran, and the secondary additions of Ruben Bemelmans, a skilled challenger level player, and Niels Desein. Goffin has an injury and isn’t expected to play, but simply put, even the lowest ranked Belgian player, Desein, is ranked more than 100 spots higher in the ranking than the highest ranked Swiss player, and without form, ability, or experience on the Swiss team, Belgian could well win a blowout victory at home, and I don’t see how they lose this tie. Late breaking news made headlines in this tie, as one of the Swiss players, challenger journeyman Yann Marti, was kicked off of the team a day before the tie by coach Luthi. According to media reports, Marti was outraged that he was not selected to play in one of the opening singles rubbers. It’s shocking to see a player of Marti’s caliber and status (292 in the world), act so put out and entitled about representing his nation in Davis Cup. His decision to abandon his teammates leaves the Swiss team with just 3 players for this tie.
Not to be forgotten this week, Italy will have to travel to Astana, Kazakhstan to battle on indoor hard. They have a much stronger team, as the in-form Andreas Seppi and Simone Bolleli are complimented by the experienced Fabio Fognini and Paolo Lorenzi. Kazakhstan has just two top 100 players, Mikhail Kukushkin and Andrey Golubev, who are expected to carry the load for them, with Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Dmitry Popko as secondary choices. Fognini, and especially Lorenzi, are far from top tier players on indoor hard, but Seppi and Bolelli can both hold their own, and with their great form this season, and a team that has good chemistry and balance, they should win this tie given neither Kukushkin nor Golubev have been in great form as of late. Seppi and Bolelli are playing the singles rubbers so Italy 3-0 or 3-1 is the pick.
Some of the other top players in the world of men’s tennis will be representing their nations outside of the world group in Davis Cup action this weekend. In the Americas region group 1, Pablo Cuevas, who has been in great form on the clay court Golden swing, and his brother Martin Cuevas, a challenger level player, will face off with Santiago Giraldo, Alejandro Gonzalez and Colombia. Though Uruguay has home court advantage, Colombia has a stronger all around team and should advance in their bid to reach the World Group.
In Europe-Africa Group 1, Jerzy Janowicz leads Poland against Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania, The Polish team at home is much stronger all around and should advance. A veteran Austria team led by the Melzer brothers, Jurgen and Gerald, along with Andreas Haider-Maurer and new coach Stefan Koubek, are strong favorites against Sweden. The young gun Elias Ymer leads them, and he will have to perform some heroics if Sweden is to have a chance to get any wins outside of the doubles rubber. Martin Klizan, Lukas Lacko and Slovakia should win at home against Blaz Kavcic and Slovenia. Dudi Sela will need to perform at his best if Israel is to upset Romania on the road, with Romania having Marius Copil for singles and a strong doubles pairing with the top team of Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau.
Diving into group 2, Joao Sousa should assist Portugal in dispatching Morocco, Marsel Ilhan and Turkey are slight favorites at home on indoor hard against a South African team that does not have Kevin Anderson, and a young Chile team should be fun to watch on clay against Peru, as the home fans will get to see Nicolas Jarry, Gonzalo Lama, and most of all Christian Garin of the 1996 generation in action.