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.
Italy d. Argentina 3-2
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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.
Spain d. Croatia 3-2
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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.