2015 Davis Cup World Group Semis and Playoffs Recap
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Great Britain will face Belgium in a 2015 Davis Cup final that few predicted at the start of the DC campaign, and at the same time in the World Group Playoffs, teams defending their World Group spot went 7-1, as just Team Poland will be new to the Davis Cup World Group compared to last season.
World Group Semifinals
Great Britain d. Australia 3-1 (3-2 total)
The Scottish Murray brothers brought glory to the Union Jack in Glasgow, as they did it all in a 3-1 win over Australia. Dan Evans lost both his singles rubbers to Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis, but Murray beat both Kokkinakis on Friday and Tomic on Sunday without dropping a set to clinch the tie. The key result came on Saturday as Andy and his brother Jamie fought off Sam Groth/Lleyton Hewitt in a thrilling five set duel to win the doubles rubber. Australia has a bright future ahead in Davis Cup, but Lleyton Hewitt comes up just short of the final in his final season as a DC ironman player. Murray’s dedication to Davis Cup this season has put Team GB just three matches away from their first Davis Cup trophy since 1936.
Belgium d. Argentina 3-2
Belgium lacks the star power of some of the other teams in the Davis Cup, but their team unity and chemistry helped put the small European nation into the DC final as well. David Goffin won twice in straights over Federico Delbonis and Diego Schwartzman, and Steve Darcis, a journeyman veteran, proved to be the hero as he won a live fifth rubber over Delbonis in a 4th set tiebreak to secure the Belgians the right to host the 2015 Davis Cup final.
Argentina didn’t have their best players, but Leonardo Mayer beat Darcis on Friday, and Mayer/Carlos Berlocq combined to win the doubles rubber over Ruben Bemelmans/Darcis to put them up 2-1 going into Sunday play, but they couldn’t finish the job and saw their lead quickly evaporate. Belgium has never been this excited about tennis before, and the best may be yet to come thanks to the successful Goffin/Darcis duo.
World Group Playoffs
Czech Republic d. India 3-1
Somdev Devvarman upset Jiri Vesely after Yuki Bhambri fell to Lukas Rosol, both straight sets results in what was a good Friday showing for India, but they couldn’t keep the momentum going as Rohan Bopanna/Leander Paes were upset in straight sets in doubles by Adam Pavlasek/Radek Stepanek to give the Czechs an advantage on the road. Vesely recovered from his Friday defeat well and sent Bhambri packing in straights to keep the Czechs in the World Group in what was a solid team effort. Indian tennis is improving, but this loss shows they still have a way to go.
Switzerland d. Netherlands 3-1 (4-1 total)
The Federer/Wawrinka combo was simply too much for an underdog Dutch team to overcome as Wawrinka beat a spirited Thiemo De Bakker in five sets onFriday, and Federer swept up Jesse Huta Galung and De Bakker on Friday and Sunday to clinch the tie without dropping a set. The Dutch did show signs of life on Saturday as De Bakker and Matwe Middelkoop beat Federer/Marco Chiudinelli in a five setter, but the Dtuch never really had a chance in this one. Henri Laaksonen won the dead rubber over Tim Van Rijthoven.
Italy d. Russia 3-1 (4-1 total)
Russia won the opening rubber as Teymuraz Gabashvili swept past Simone Bolelli, but in the end having home advantage did little to help them defeat a unified Italian team. Fabio Fognini helped the Italians bounce back with a routine win over Russian young gun Andrey Rublev, and then Bolelli/Fognini won the key doubles point over Evgeny Donskoy/Konstantin Kravchuk in four sets. Fognini would clinch the tie over Gabashvili in straights, continuing his good form, and Paolo Lorenzi won the dead rubber over Kravchuk in 2 sets. Next year, Italy could be a dangerous team if Fognini can perform well.
USA d. Uzbekistan 3-1
The USA survived what could have been a very tricky tie in Uzbekistan thanks to Jack Sock. Sock won twice over Farrukh Dustov and Denis Istomin, dropping just the set to Istomin, and that result clinched the tie. On Friday, Istomin won a five setter over Steve Johnson, but Johnson, a former NCAA player used to team tennis, bounced back well to win the doubles tie on Saturday with Sam Querrey over Dustov/Istomin in straights, giving the USA a strong advantage. Using some new players in Sock and Johnson, gave embattled captain Jim Courier a much needed win.
Japan d. Colombia 3-2
In the most competitive of the playoff ties, a pair of straight set wins for Kei Nishikori over Alejandro Falla and Santiago Giraldo put Japan into a live fifth rubber, and the young Taro Daniel proved the hero, as he was fearless in his three set victory over Falla. The Colombians were 2-1 up going into Sunday, as Giraldo had beaten Daniel in five sets, and Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah beat Yoshi Nishioka/Yasutaka Uchiyama in four sets in the doubles, but Daniel bounced back well and kept Japan in the World Group in what was a wise call up for their team.
Germany d. Dominican Republic 3-1 (4-1 total)
As expected, Victor Estrella’s form was not near good enough to defeat a better quality German team. Estrella did get an opening rubber win over Dustin Brown in four sets, but he lost the doubles rubber with Jose Hernandez-Fernandez to Philipp Kohlschreiber/Philipp Petzschner in straights, and then lost to Kohlschreiber in straights on Sunday to resolve the tie. Kohlschreiber also beat Hernandez-Fernandez on Friday, and Benjamin Becker won the dead rubber over Roberto Cid in 2 sets.
Croatia d. Brazil 3-1
Borna Coric stepped up big this weekend for a Croatia team that lacked two of its best players. On the road in Brazil, Coric beat Joao Souza and Thomaz Bellucci to clinch the tie, as Bellucci came up injured in the fourth set on Sunday. Credit also goes to Ivan Dodig/Franko Skugor who shocked Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares by winning a pair of tiebreaks in the 3rd and fourth sets to win the doubles rubber. Bellucci did beat Mate Delic on Friday in 4 sets, but his physical condition ended up dooming the Brazilians.
Poland d. Slovakia 3-2
As expected, Poland and Slovakia went to a live fifth rubber, and the clutch play of veteran Michal Przysiezny won them the day. Przysiezny had lost on Friday to Martin Klizan in straights, but he won in straights over Norbert Gombos on Sunday and erased those demons to send his nation into the World Group. Klizan rolled past Jerzy Janowicz in straights on Sunda, after Janowicz had beaten Gombos, and Lukasz Kubot/Marcin Matkowski had won the doubles rubber over Andrej Martin/Igor Zelenay, but the Slovakians could not complete their comeback.
Action outside the World Group
Chile moved into Americas Group 1 with a 5-0 thumping of Venezuela, Pakistan beat Taiwan 3-2 to join Asia/Oceania Group 1, Rafael Nadal and Spain remained in group 1 with a dominant win over Denmark, and Portugal, which features Joao Sousa and Gastao Elias, and Hungary will join Europe/Africa Group 1 with wins over Bulgaria and Belarus respectively, both by a score of 3-2.