Djokovic and Kyrgios Lead Push for Davis Cup Semifinals Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
An exciting weekend of Davis Cup action is in the books, and semifinals await in Belgium and France, while a host of nations have a shot at reaching the World Group in 2018 via the World Group playoffs.
Belgium d. Italy 3-2 (3-1 on live rubbers)
The leadership of David Goffin and Steve Darcis continued to shine for Belgium as they both won matches on Friday over Paolo Lorenzi and Andreas Seppi respectively to setup Belgium to capture the tie and reach the semifinals. Despite Seppi and Simone Bolelli winning the doubles over Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore to extend the tie, Goffin eased past Lorenzi in the decider. In the dead rubber, Alessandro Giannessi beat De Loore, perhaps showing he should have been the choice over Lorenzi in the decisive rubber.
Australia d. USA 3-2 (3-1 on live rubbers)
It was a huge week for Nick Kyrgios, who has had a fantastic last month or so. Kyrgios beat John Isner and Sam Querrey without so much as dropping a set to push Australia through to the semifinals at home in Brisbane. Jordan Thompson was also huge, as Thompson upset Jack Sock on Friday. The USA was able to keep the tie alive with a doubles rubber win by Steve Johnson and Sock over John Peers and Sam Groth, but Kyrgios was simply unbreakable in his matches. John Isner would go on to win a dead rubber, but it will be Australia taking on Belgium for a spot in the DC final.
France d. Great Britain 4-1 (3-0 on live rubbers)
Clay was kryptonite for team GB as Lucas Pouille, Jeremy Chardy, and Julien Benneteau/Nicolas Mahut dominated Kyle Edmund, Dan Evans, and Dominic Inglot/Jamie Murray to rule their DC tie 3-0, dropping just one set in the decisive doubles rubber. The British side never looked comfortable on the slower surface, with Evans claiming a dead rubber win, while Chardy also did so. The French side may not have a “star” player, but it remains the deepest in the DC field.
Serbia d. Spain 4-1 (3-0 on live rubbers)
A healthy and motivated Novak Djokovic helped Serbia take care of business against a weaker Spanish side, Djokovic and Viktor Troicki won in straights over Albert Ramos and Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday, then Troicki and “old man” Nenad Zimonjic beat PCB and Marc Lopez to clinch the tie in the doubles rubber. Dusan Lajovic and Ramos would split results in the dead rubbers, but Djokovic now heads into a semifinal against France as the undisputed best player left in the competition this year. He looks ready to do damage in the semis and hopefully the final, and if Serbia is going to win the Davis Cup he’ll most likely need to sweep the matches in which he plays.
Results outside of the World Group
India and Kazakhstan dominated China and Uzbekistan respectively to reach the World Group playoffs, despite India dealing with a row between captain Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, they still played well. Brazil and Colombia are both heading to the World Group playoffs as well, with Thomaz Bellucci and Santiago Giraldo leading the way past Ecuador and Chile respectively.
Robin Haase went 3-0 in his matches as Holland beat Bosnia to reach the WG playoffs, Belarus beat Austria’s Melzer brothers to do the same, while Joao Sousa’s Portugal were efficient and decisive over Ukraine winning 4-1. Sweden, Lithuania, Denmark, and South Africa will be competing for promotion to Europe/Africa group 1 in 2018.
2017 Davis Cup Round 1 Recap: Stunning wins for Belgium and Italy Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
An exciting Davis Cup weekend saw three ties go the distance as nations booked their spots in the World Group quarterfinals for 2017. Here is your recap of all of the happenings at venues across the world.
A rowdy Buenos Aires crowd went home on Monday disappointed, in a tie that went an extra day after rainstorms prevented it from finishing on Sunday. The Italians strong 2-0 start put defending champions Argentina into a hole that they couldn’t recover from by the end of the tie. Paolo Lorenzi defeated Guido Pella to open the tie, and Andreas Seppi needed four sets to put away Carlos Berlocq. Argentina staved off defeat by winning the doubles, as Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer combined to defeat Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini in five sets. Berlocq then defeated Lorenzi to force a decisive fifth rubber that was played on Monday.
From two sets to love down, Fabio Fognini upset Pella in five sets. The Italian started in pedestrian form, sleepwalking through two sets, but Pella ran out of steam, and was unable to finish the match out, Pella went down a break against Fognini in the fifth, and despite having chances, he was unable to get it back.
Belgium d. Germany 4-1
Steve Darcis played nine sets of tennis in this tie, winning six of those sets, as the serve and volleying veteran led Belgium to an upset of neighboring Germany in Frankfurt. Darcis defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber in five sets on Friday, clinching the tie with an upset of Alexander Zverev in four sets on Sunday. Darcis pivotal leadership also helped Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore defeat the Zverev brothers in the doubles rubber. The only German victory came for Alexander Zverev on Friday over Arthur De Greef. Bemelmans beat Mischa Zverev in a dead rubber. Presuming David Goffin returns to play for Belgium, the recent DC finalists have the makings of a great team that can make a deep run.
Australia d. Czech Republic 4-1
Australia showed off a talented and deep squad, dominating the Czech Republic 3-0 in live rubbers as Jordan Thompson, Nick Kyrgios, Sam Groth/John Peers all won their matches without dropping so much of a set. Jiri Vesely lost to Thompson, Jan Satral lost to Kyrgios, and Satral and Vesely together dropped the decisive doubles point against Groth/Peers. Vesely beat Groth in a dead rubber, while Thompson eased past Satral in two sets to conclude the tie.
USA d. Switzerland 5-0
The lone round 1 whitewash came in Birmingham for team USA, as a weak Swiss team was no match for the USA’s best. Jack Sock beat Marco Chiudinelli in straights on Friday, while John Isner needed four sets and one tiebreak against Henri Laaksonen. Sock and Steve Johnson clinched the tie with a routine win over Laaksonen and Adrien Bossel, then Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson were called upon on Sunday to delight home fans with routine victories over Adrien Bossel and Antoine Bellier. Along with having five ATP caliber players, team USA showed off a lot of great team chemistry over the weekend.
France d. Japan 4-1
France swept Japan in live rubbers, as the experience of their squad shone through in two days of competitive action. Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon eased past Taro Daniel and Yoshihito Nishioka on Friday, setting up Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert to pair up and defeat Yasutaka Uchiyama and Yuichi Sugita to clinch the tie. Mahut and Herbert played dead rubbers against Nishioka and Uchiyama, splitting results.
Great Britain d. Canada 3-2
A horrible mistake by teenager Denis Shapovalov doomed Team Canada, as Great Britain had to scratch and claw to survive a tie that was more challenging than expected for the Brits. Dan Evans got the tie started off great for Team GB, easing past Shapovalov in straight sets. Vasek Pospisil had an impressive tie though, as he defeated Kyle Edmund in straights on Friday, and despite dropping the doubles rubber alongside Daniel Nestor to Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray, Pospisil came back to defeat Evans in a close four setter to setup Shapovalov with a chance to clinch the tie at home at a young age.
Down two sets against Edmund, a frustrated Shapovalov launched a ball off his racquet towards the stands that nailed the chair umpire in the eye, sending the umpire to the hospital, and resulting in a mandatory default that handed team GB the tie. It was the talk of the weekend in the tennis world, but GB was likely to win the fifth rubber anyway, and Shapovalov clearly didn’t intend to inflict injury on anyone with his careless actions.
Serbia d. Russia 4-1
The combined strength of Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki was too much for a young Russian squad, as the Serbians won 3-0 on live rubbers. Troicki defeated Karen Khachanov in four sets, while Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev in four on Friday. Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic wasted no time putting away Konstantin Kravchuk and Andrey Kuznetsov in the doubles rubber.
Nearly embarrassed, a higher ranked Spanish team staved off an upset at the hands of Croatia, thanks to Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut winning both Sunday rubbers. RBA was perfect in the tie, posting wins over Ante Pavic and Franko Skugor, dropping just a set against Skugor. Croatia was up 2-1 after Saturday play, as Marin Draganja and Nikola Mektic beat the Lopez brothers in doubles, while Skugor had previously stunned Carreno Busta on Friday. PCB recovered to ease past Mektic in the decisive fifth rubber.
Results outside of the World Group
Americas Group 1 final round ties were set, as Ecuador and Chile won their ties 5-0 to setup matches against Brazil and Chile respectively. India and Uzbekistan advanced to the final round in Asia’s Group 1, as South Korea was upset by Uzbekistan.
In Europe’s Group 1, Hungary upset Slovakia 3-1, Bosnia beat Poland, Belarus defeated Romania, and Portugal swept Israel. Group 2 saw Sweden upset Tunisia, Turkey defeat Cyprus, Georgia come back for a huge result against Finland, and Slovenia slip past Monaco. South Africa, Denmark, Norway, and Lithuania also advanced.
Andy Murray broke another long drought for British tennis as he led team GB to the 2015 Davis Cup title over team Belgium in Ghent, Belgium on indoor clay. It’s the first DC title for the Brits since 1936, as Murray adds a Davis Cup trophy to his two career Grand Slam titles, capping off a top three ATP season this year (and four ATP titles, including two Masters).
Murray finished the year 8-0 in Davis Cup singles play as he didn’t drop a set against either Ruben Bemelmans on Friday, or David Goffin on Sunday, in the tie clinching fourth rubber. The skill and level of Goffin and Bemelmans just not up to par with Murray, as the balanced Belgian team lacked the star power to win the tie, and home support couldn’t put them over the top.
The key rubber came on Saturday. Tied at 1-1 after Kyle Edmund squandered a 2-0 lead to crumble in a five set defeat at the hands of Goffin. Andy and Jamie Murray won the final two sets over Goffin and Steve Darcis to capture a four set doubles rubber victory, and setup Murray to seal the deal as he did on Sunday.
The young Edmund was making his DC debut and deserves credit for pushing Goffin hard, his body blows further weakening the Belgian team. Surely he’ll improve in later ties and the World Group next year, as he has bright future.
Leon Smith’s decision making was also top notch as he decided to pair the Murray brothers in doubles this time. He coached team GB to victory over traditional tennis powerhouses USA, France, and Australia en route to the final.
Belgium showed team unity can result in Davis Cup wins for underdogs, and with a relatively young team, they should continue to improve as well, and will get another potential shot at the title next year, likely fired up after coming so close to tasting victory.
The top tier of men’s professional tennis has now concluded for 2015, and one month from now the ATP World Tour will return for the start of the Australian Open series and the road to the 2016 Australian Open. Enjoy the short break, and we look forward to offering high quality pro tennis coverage again next year.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
An Interview With Ruben Bemelmans (@rubenbemelmans) From the GlasgowChallenger Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Ruben Chatting with Niall
During my time in Glasgow I caught up with world number 163 Ruben Bemelmans. We discussed the Glasgow tournament, Davis Cup, and much more.
Of course you are playing Glasgow this week. How are you finding it thus far? “As a city I haven’t been able to go around, but I have been here for Davis Cup and it was very nice. As for the tournament, I believe that organisation with the shuttles could be a bit better for transportation. But it’s been a great tournament with a lot of players and a good level, and it’s always good to play in the UK.”
In your first round match against Adam Pavalsek you were a set and a break down. Tell us your thoughts on the match and how you adjusted to come from behind and win? “I just kept fighting. I didn’t feel my best because I played a tournament last week and came in on Monday, so I had to adjust to the balls and the courts. But I just kept fighting and I think I played more solid on the important points than him (Adam).”
How confident are you in taking home the title this week? “Title? I have to play second round first, so I am looking at it round by round. Obviously I have to play better to go further, but I am feeling good and confident. If I can keep raising my game and fighting round by round, who knows what will happen.”
You made the main draw at the Australian Open, but lost to Ivo Karlovic in the first round. How was your experience in Melbourne?” “To play Ivo isn’t as much fun as playing the other guys. He’s got a big serve, and he was on fire that day because he played amazing from the back. I played him a few times and I was a bit better from the back on them occasions, but in that match he smacked forehands everywhere so I had little chance. But I qualified with a lot of confidence, and now I am playing good so it was a good start to the year for me.”
You will be competing with Belgium in the Davis Cup next month and you will be facing Switzerland. What are your thoughts on that upcoming tie? :A lot depends on if the two big names will come (Wawrinka and Federer). It’s always a big question mark if they will come, but the latest news I heard was that Federer isn’t playing, but you never know he might decide to play the week before. If they both come it will be really tough for us. Of course we have David Goffin, Steve Darcis and myself as the number three, so it will be interesting if only one or neither of them come.”
Goffin of course has had a lot of recent success. How is that inspiring you as a fellow Belgian player? “I think what he achieved last year was unbelievable. I won’t say I will be able to do that, but it certainly pushes you for me, and makes it possible. We have practiced together and a lot of the time it was even, so I think you need to strike at the right time and be lucky, but you also need a lot of skill. But of course, David’s success is pushing everybody in Belgium to get better.”
What do you feel you have to do to become a consistent ATP main draw player? “I think I proved yesterday that if you keep fighting you are never done. The key for me is to keep going for every shot and not be afraid to make mistakes. It’s no secret in tennis that you have to keep going and work hard, so that’s what I need to do.”
What are your main goals for the 2015 season? “My first goal is to make the main draw at Roland Garros. I have no points to defend until the summer so everything I take now is a bonus. I picked up some points last week which will take me to around 150 in the world, so I think it’s a fair goal. My overall of course is to make the main draw in all the grand slams though.”
Thanks to Ruben for taking time out of his day to chat with Niall in Glasgow!