More Starpower Added @CitiOpen as @AndyMurray Join Doubles Field With @Jamie_Murray
Andy Murray (Photo: Mike Renz for Tennis Atlantic)
Another deep and talented doubles field will descend on D.C. next week with all 10 of the ATP World Tour’s Top-10 doubles players set to compete at the CitiOpen.
Former world No.1 Andy Murray is also among the headliners in the men’s doubles field as Murray returns to Washington for a rare chance to partner with his brother Jamie.
While the Murray brothers have teamed up in the past, those occasions have primarily come during international competitions such as the Olympics or the Davis Cup.
Andy Murray, Citi Open
But with Andy Murray primarily playing doubles this year as he continues his comeback from hip surgery, the CitiOpen presents a rare opportunity for the Murray brothers to partner in an ATP event. Jamie is ranked No. 8 in doubles and is a six-time Grand Slam champion in doubles competition.
Jamie, 15 months Andy’s senior, won the CitiOpen doubles crown last summer with then-partner Bruno Soares. Soares, who is fresh off competing for the Washington Kastles, is back this year as well with partner Mate Pavic of Croatia.
A sudden rise at the end of the season propelled Andy Murray to his first ever year end #1 ranking, and he capped it all off in a showdown with Novak Djokovic, the long time world #1 in the finals of the 2016 ATP World Tour Finals. In a 6-3 6-4 upset, Murray won just his second match of the season against Djokovic as the Serbian continued his late season slide, compared to his usually lofty standards.
Murray finished the year by winning 25 straight matches, a remarkable blitz that included two Masters titles, and six top 10 wins. He’s a fitting world #1 after claiming the Wimbledon title, and the Olympic gold medal this year, along with nine titles overall, and three Masters titles overall, across all of the ATP surfaces. It was quite special to him to be able to clinch the #1 ranking in front of a home crowd in London.
Djokovic finished the year with seven titles, including two Grand Slams and four Masters titles. He found form to defeat David Goffin, Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem, and Kei Nishikori in the World Tour Finals. Murray beat Stan Wawrinka, Nishikori, Marin Cilic, and Raonic in a third set tiebreak.
Henri Kontinen and John Peers beat Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram in the doubles final. Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray finish the year as the top ranked doubles team, marking the first time brothers have been #1 in doubles and singles, with Andy and Jamie Murray achieving that feat. Nicolas Mahut is the world’s #1 doubles player in his own right.
The ATP top 10 in singles is Murray, Djokovic, Raonic, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Cilic, Gael Monfils, Thiem, Rafael Nadal, and Tomas Berdych, marking the first time players from different countries have made up the entire top 10.
Four players, Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric, Karen Khachanov and Taylor Fritz will finish the year inside the top 100 under the age of 21. Meanwhile the ATP continues to be a veteran’s sport, as sixteen players 33 years of age or older are inside the top 100.
Andy Murray nearly did it alone for team GB in Birmingham. The British #1 demolished Taro Daniel on Friday, then teamed with his brother Jamie to handle the Japanese doubles team of Yasutaka Uchiyama and Yoshihito Nishioka on Saturday. Kei Nishikori had beaten Dan Evans in a competitive three set contest on Friday to force competitive action on Saturday, but he would need to get past Murray to force a live fifth rubber.
Murray quickly build a two set lead, at which point Nishikori had his back against the wall. Kei forced a fifth set with improved play, but after five breaks of serve in the final set, Murray served the match out to win the tie. The fifth rubber was then canceled as Birmingham native Dan Evans was only needed once. Next for the defending champion Brits is team Serbia on the road.
Serbia d. Kazakhstan 3-2
Serbia had a top 20 doubles player,the world #1 singles player Novak Djokovic, and top 30 player Viktor Troicki on their squad. On paper, they should have swept at Kazakh team playing on the road without a top 50 player. When it came to the actual matches, the result ended up being quite different. Djokovic started the tie with a routine win over challenger veteran Aleksandr Nedovyesov in straight sets, but team leader Mikhail Kukushkin steadied his team and upset Viktor Troicki in straight sets to even the tie at 1-1 on Friday.
Andrey Golubev and Nedovyesov then combined to stun Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic for the biggest win of their career in doubles. Even more shockingly, the Golubev/Nedovyesov tandem got the job done in straight sets, as Djokovic was well off his game.
Facing elimination, Djokovic went up against Kukushkin in an all out war for the first three sets. Kukushkin won the first set in a tiebreak, lost the second set tiebreak, and then came back to win the third set, putting Serbia just a set away from elimination. Djokovic upped his game at that point however, overcoming any injury or rust he may be carrying to win the final two sets 6-3 6-2 and force a live fifth rubber.
Called on for the third time in the tie, Nedovyesov lost in straight sets to Troicki, who shook off his poor showing on Friday to erase any doubts of a Kazakh miracle win. Serbia still has some great players, but they won’t be able to afford to play so poorly against team GB in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, you have to admire the fight and warrior’s heart of the underdog Kazakh team.
Italy d. Switzerland 5-0
On indoor clay, Italy proved too much for a lowly ranked Swiss team. Marco Chiudinelli gave it his all in the opening tie, only to lose in a long fifth set to Paolo Lorenzi, a true dirtballing warrior. Andreas Seppi then finished off Henri Laaksonen in four competitive sets to give Italy a 2-0 lead.
In the final live rubber, Seppi and Simone Bolelli dominated an exhausted Chiudinelli/Laaksonen in straight sets to win the tie. In the dead rubbers, Lorenzi beat Davis Cup débutante Antoine Bellier, and Marco Cecchinato beat Adrien Bossel, both in straight sets. Italy will host Argentina in the quarterfinals.
Argentina d. Poland 3-2 (3-1 on live rubbers)
This tie was live on Sunday, but the Poles simply lacked the talent to defeat Argentina, even with the crowd behind them. The experienced Leonardo Mayer defeated Hubert Hurkacz, and Guido Pella defeated Michal Przysiezny in straight sets on Friday to give Argentina 2-0 lead. Poland then called on their veterans Marcin Matkowski and Lukasz Kubot to keep the tie alive, and they did so, defeating Carlos Berlocq and Renzo Olivo in four sets.
Mayer then defeated Przysiezny from a set down to win the tie, with Hurkacz winning his first Davis Cup rubber over Olivo in a dead fifth rubber. Argentina will travel to Italy for their next tie.
The Caribbean paradise of Guadeloupe saw the French tricolore waved proudly as a loaded French team dominated a weakened Canadian one without dropping a set. Gael Monfils demolished Frank Dancevic, and Gilles Simon outdueled Vasek Pospisil on clay to take a 2-0 lead on Friday. Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga then defeated Pospisil and Philip Bester to win the doubles rubber and capture the tie. Gasquet beat Bester in the dead fourth rubber, and Dancevic retired in the dead fifth rubber. France will next travel to the Czech Republic with a great chance to win the Davis Cup.
An injury to Tomas Berdych resulted in this tie going to a live fifth rubber, but young gun Alexander Zverev was the weak link for team Germany at home. Philipp Kohlschreiber lead the way for Germany, winning an opening fifth set match against Lukas Rosol. Berdych then fired back with a tough five set win over Zverev, who put his heart and soul into the match. Berdych and veteran Radek Stepanek won the doubles in straight sets over Kohlschreiber and veteran Philipp Petzschner.
In the live fourth rubber, Kohlschreiber won the first two sets over Berdych, who then promptly retired with an injury. That thrust Zverev into the spotlight against Rosol, but the big hitting Czech demolished him 6-2 6-3 6-1. Zverev was never really into the match, even though it should have been more competitive. The Czech Republic will host France next.
The unretirement of Lleyton Hewitt wasn’t enough to save Australia on grass against team USA in a battle between two of tennis’ historical giants. John Isner was the hero for team USA as the big server won matches over Sam Groth in straights on Friday, and Bernard Tomic in four sets on Sunday to clinch the tie. Isner had a surprisingly great return game on grass.
Tomic beat Jack Sock in four sets on Friday, and the Bryan Brothers beat John Peers, and Aussie captain Lleyton Hewitt in the doubles tie, though it went five sets, and Hewitt played quite well for a (just) retired player. Despite the leadership of Hewitt, the Australian team had a running spat all weekend about whether young gun Nick Kyrgios was fit enough to play and should have helped his country out. A frustrated Bernard Tomic accused Kyrgios of faking an injury in the match against Isner.
With the result, team USA will host Croatia in the quarterfinals.
Croatia d. Belgium 3-2
The young Borna Coric won a live fifth rubber to send Croatia into the quarterfinals of the World Group, and end the hopes of Belgium to reach the Davis Cup final once more. Coric lost his five set contest with David Goffin on Friday, though he battled to the end from 2 sets to love down. Marin Cilic beat Kimmer Coppejans in straight sets on Friday though to even the tie at 1-1.
Ivan Dodig and Franko Skugor then got the job done for Croatia over Ruben Bemelmans and Goffin. Goffin scored a minor upset over Cilic to force a live fifth rubber. With Bemelmans injured, Coppejans was called on again, and that was when Coric won in straight sets to send Croatia through.
Action outside the World Group
Wins for Ecuador and Chile in Americas Group 1 one set them up for battles with Brazil and Colombia respectively for a spot in the World Group Playoffs. India will face Korea, and China will face Uzbekistan in the final round of Asia’s Group 1. In Europe/Africa Group 1, Romania beat Slovenia, Dominic Thiem and Austria handled Portugal, Russia beat Sweden, and Hungary slipped past Israel. Romania hosts Spain, Ukraine hosts Austria, Russia hosts the Netherlands, and Hungary hosts Slovakia for spots in the World Group playoffs.
In notable Europe/Africa group 2 ties, Bosnia’s Mirza Basic won an 18-16 fourth set tiebreak and went on to lead his nation to a win over Malek Jaziri and Tunisia. Marsel Ilhan won twice to give Turkey a win over Bulgaria in a battle of neighbors in Ankara, Turkey.
A fresh Andy Murray gave team GB an edge in the Saturday doubles tie, and they took advantage, as Andy and his brother Jamie Murray defeated the young Japanese pairing of Yasutaka Uchiyama and Yoshihito Nishioka in the Saturday Davis Cup doubles tie 6-3 6-2 6-4 in just under 2 hours.
The experienced Murray pairing was comfortable from the start, with a raucous Birmingham crowd behind them. Uchiyama/Nishioka held their mettle until 3-4 serving in the opening set, where they were broken, and lost the next game to surrender the opening set. The Murray boys then took firm control of the match momentum, striking quickly to break in the opening game of set 2 on their second break point chance, and holding serve from there, adding another break along the way to take the second set 6-2.
The Japanese pairing gathered themselves and played tough in the third set, but they couldn’t generate any break point chances against the British pairing the entire match, and the third set was no different. Under intense pressure in their final two service games of the match, they were finally broken for 5-4, and the British pairing would serve the match out at love in the next game for 6-4.
The win was the fourth in a row for Andy and Jamie in Davis Cup play, dating back to last year The Murray brothers are likely to end up representing team GB in Men’s doubles at the Rio Olympic games. Doubles specialist Dominic Inglot ended up being held in reserve, but GB captain Leon Smith said that didn’t bother him, stating in the post-match press conference.
“As usual it was professional, the decision on the doubles has been talked about in the team before the tie and all the rest of the weekend. Dom knows the situation and understands it. He respects both Andy and Jamie (both ranked #2) and respects the decision. Dom always prepares as if he will be playing and came out and practiced this morning with the team.”
Today it will be Andy Murray against Kei Nishikori with a possibility of clinching the tie. If needed, Dan Evans will go up opposite Taro Daniel. Murray and Nishikori both posted wins on Friday without dropping a set, though Evans put up a tougher fight than Daniel. Japan would have to pull off a shock to end up winning the tie.
Novak Djokovic won his 11th Grand Slam, his 6th Australian Open, and captured his third straight Grand Slam in a row with a straight set drubbing of world #2 Andy Murray 6-1 7-5 7-6(3) in the final. The world #1 has now doubled his ranking points compared to his two closest rivals Murray, and Roger Federer, who he defeated in the semifinals in 4 sets 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3.
Djokovic was masterclass in all of his matches, though he stared down a five setter against Gilles Simon in the fourth round. The Serbian has been far and above his rivals since last Summer, and his 12-0 record in 2016, shows no signs of incurring a loss anytime soon. He’s the player to beat in 2016.
Both Murray and Federer are great talents who consistently performed well all tournament, but they were unable to crack the code of Djokovic’s physicality, counter punching, and court coverage. It takes a super human effort to defeat him, something Simon put up, but wasn’t able to maintain over five sets, though the Frenchman for a time was getting to every ball put into play.
Djokovic also comfortably dealt with Hyeon Chung, Quentin Halys, and Andreas Seppi, without dropping a set, but needing a couple of tiebreaks, in the early rounds. In the quarterfinals he crushed Kei Nishikori, another top player who simply had no footing against the world #1. The tennis we are seeing from Djokovic is out of this world right now.
Murray rolled past Alexander Zverev, and Sam Groth, then needed four sets against Joao Sousa to reach the second week. Home Australian Bernard Tomic also failed to grab a set, and David Ferrer took him to four sets in the quarterfinals. Murray’s triumph to reach the final came against Milos Raonic, who was bidding for his first Grand Slam final. The Canadian #1 has shown major improvements this season by playing more aggressively, and coming to net. Raonic had a two set to one lead, but failed to close out the match, as the great returner Murray ended up winning in five sets 4-6 7-5 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2. Murray has had great success in Melbourne, but once more he failed to come home with the Champion’s trophy. The British #1 is rushing home now to be present for the birth of his first child.
Raonic beat Stan Wawrinka by clinching the fifth set and staving off a great comeback from 2 sets to love up, and in the semifinals after that, he dealt with Gael Monfils, who played well, but could only manage to capture a set. Raonic’s great serving took his game to the next level, as he looks capable of challenging for a top five ranking, if he can continue good results on fast surfaces.
Federer scored notable wins in the second week over Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, and Tomas Berdych, as his path was somewhat easier compared to the other semifinalists. Still at his age he continues to perform as an elite player, and remains a threat to win the big tournaments. His game is still working like it has for years.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, a new pairing, won the men’s doubles title in three sets over Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek, a pair of grizzled veterans. Jamie Murray won his first major, as his brother Andy cheered him on. It was a great tournament for British tennis.
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.
Murray Brothers Give Team GB a 2-1 Lead in Davis Cup Action vs. Australia Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
With the tie between Great Britain and Australia poised at 1-1, many thought that doubles could be the deciding factor. Originally it was scheduled to be Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt vs Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot. But as expected Andy Murray was drafted in to partner his brother again the Aussies.
The Brits were the team to earn the first break point opportunities on the Hewitt serve, but they were well saved the Australian pair. Instead it would be Jamie’s serve that would be broken, as a Groth inspired Australia dealt the first blow.
The crowd rallied behind the Brits to get a break back, but they were fast running out of chances with Groth serving for the set. After a controversial call to award the point to after hawk eye ruled a Groth serve in, GB found themselves with two break back points. But a few big serves later, including a 141MPH unreturnable, Australia took the first set 6-4.
The second set was tight in the opening stages with neither team offering up an early break point. However, GB would find themselves with an opportunity in the sixth game of the set, and it would be taken as the big serve of Groth was finally broken. It would be left to Andy to serve out the set, and so he did as his brother Jamie buried an easy volley to level the score.
The Aussies would bounced back early in the second with an early break to establish a 2-0 lead. A Groth backhand was too much to handle for Andy after an excellent return by Hewitt set up the break point opportunity. The lead was whipped out though as Australia were made to rue some mistakes in the seventh game. It was back on serve at 4-3.
Soon the pressure was on the Aussie’s as GB earned break point at 4-4, but Andy missed a backhand and the chance went begging. After a missed volley from Hewitt, the Murray’s would receive a second chance at a break, and this time they would not be denied. Jamie put away the smash and all of a sudden the tide had turned in favour of Great Britain. Andy would successfully serve out the set to give Great Britain a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, Australia would once again strike early. Jamie was broken after a half volley hit the net. The lead wouldn’t last long however as Britain were able to break back straight away. Australia would earn two opportunities to re-take the lead in the fourth set, getting to 15-40 on the Jamie serve. But both break points were saved and Great Britain held under the pressure. The older brother would continue to struggle on serve at 4-5 and the Aussies would soon find themselves with three set points to level the match. They were all saved by Great Britain who levelled the score at 5-5 taking us to the deep waters.
Instead it would be Great Britain who would make the crucial breakthrough at 5-5 to put themselves within one service game of taking a 2-1 lead in the tie. However, Hewitt’s fighting spirit came to the fore and Australia kept their hopes alive by breaking back from 30-0 down to take us to a tiebreak. It was a tense and nervy tiebreak that saw Great Britain lead 5-4 on serve, but it was Australia that would take the set after saving match point after a missed volley by the Murray’s.
The Brits opened the final set with a hold, and after a poor game from Groth which saw him miss three volleys and double fault, the brothers Murray were back ahead. It wasn’t over yet though as the Groth/Hewitt combination broke back to 15. Australia were put back under pressure immediately and faced more break points with Groth screaming ‘I can’t hold’. But the 27 year old did manage to hang on to his serve and we were even again at 3-3.
The Murray’s managed to get to 5-4 to put some scoreboard pressure on the already tight Groth serve, and it proved to be all too much for the Aussie’s who lost serve to lose the match in five sets.
Great Britain pulled through in three hours and 56 minutes to defeat Australia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 and give themselves a vital 2-1 lead heading into the final.
The younger of the Murray brothers will now turns his attentions to the fourth singles rubber, or will he?
“I think I’ll let Dom play the singles tomorrow… see how it goes,” The world number three joked.
“The longer the match, the less time to recover and the harder to recover. Physically it’s tough but also emotionally matches like that are draining as well.
“I don’t think enough is made of that, they are very tough matches to play, lots of ups and downs, and chances for both teams, but try and recover as best as I can.”
Hewitt spoke of the up’s and downs of doubles tennis.
“You know all Davis Cup doubles are a lot of ebbs and flows in a five set match, especially on that kind of surface,” said the former world number one.
“It’s on the slower side court, so there’s gonna be ups and downs, there’s gonna be breaks of serves. You know we obviously fought off some break points early in the first set, was able to get that set.
“Second set, we couldn’t quite get into their service games as much then obviously had an early break in the third. Got a little bit unlucky actually to give the break back, where they hit some net cords and then you know obviously we just kept fighting and digging deep when they served for the match in the fourth, really close tiebreak.
“In the fifth again we were down a break, came back and then obviously got broken again. So especially Davis Cup doubles over five sets, it sometimes can only rely on one or two points.”
Tennis Atlantic is live in Glasgow, Scotland for the Davis Cup semi-final between Great Britain and Australia over the weekend of the 18th-20th of September. The Brits are searching for their first Davis Cup success for nearly 80 years when they take on the Aussies at the Emirates Arena this weekend. Confidence is high around the UK that this could be the year Team GB breaks into the final, and with recent victories over France and USA there is little reason to doubt them.
Leon Smith’s team is spearheaded by world number three Andy Murray, whose heroics at Queens in July earned GB a 3-1 victory over France. The Scot played all three days despite physical struggles, and earned key victories over Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon in the single rubbers.
Lleyton Hewitt claimed that all the pressure will be on Andy this weekend as the clear number one British player, but Murray insists that it is not all on him and it will come down to the entire team. “I would say [The Pressure] is all on me.” The 28 year old said. “We got into this position by everyone on the team playing their part, and there is pressure on everybody.
Murray will be joined by his brother Jamie Murray, Dominic Inglot, and Dan Evans, as they try replicate the success that dates back to the days of Fred Perry. Both Kyle Edmund, who had an ankle injury concern earlier in the week, and James Ward are alternates for Team GB but were not included in the formal nominations. “I went for a scan last night” The British number three Edmund said. “And when it came back it showed nothing, just a little bit of a bump, that’s it.” Despite the results, Smith went for a player nobody expected to be drafted in. Dan Evans was chosen over Ward and Edmund as the second singles player.
“It wasn’t an easy one but having thought about it a lot, the fact that Dan has played an awful lot of tennis this summer, won a lot of matches, I said the other day it’s obvious at Futures level that winning really helps, and he comes with a lot of confidence.” The GB captain said. “Obviously Kyle, although he’s almost fit, he still had a fall the other day and I think at this stage it was wasn’t worth risking anything happening over the weekend especially when you go in with the make-up of two singles players and two doubles players, if anything had happened with Kyle Friday we would have been up against it. “For James, the tie came maybe the wrong time for him after a summer that’s been quite tough results wise, but he’s played a big, big part in the team to date and I’m sure he’ll play a big part in the future as well, but I felt that Dan was in the best place to win for the weekend.”
Australia are bidding for their first title in 12 years, and one man remains from that victories team back in 2003. Hewitt is making his final appearance in the Davis Cup this year, and boy he would love to go out on a bang. The former two time grand slam champion is joined by Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and Thanasi Kokkanakis as they look to combine youth and experience to take down the Brits. “Yeah it obviously means a lot [to play his last Davis Cup]” Hewitt said. “It is my last year playing, and it is a great opportunity. “With my experience and the other boys’ youth, I think we have really mixed it up well this year” “I think as a team we have gotten stronger as the year has gone on, which is a really good sign. We are here to put our best foot forward and we won’t be leaving anything in the locker room that’s for sure.”
The noticeable omission is their number two player, Nick Kyrgios. The 20 year old ‘bad boy’ of tennis recently was surrounded in controversy after comments made about Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend. The Aussie is serving a one month suspension from the ATP, but he still eligible to play Davis Cup, so he was just left out of the squad. “After Nick played Andy at the US Open we sat down two days later. Nick has had a really full year in more ways than one, so we just kind of felt mutually that this was the best fit for him and the team.” Said Aussie captain, Wally Masur.
The draw to see who will play who was made on Thursday, and here is how it came out.
The British number one, Murray, will face Aussie youngster, Kokkanakis in the first rubber tomorrow afternoon. The pair know each other well due to practicing a lot together and playing doubles in Miami. However this is their first competitive meeting. “Yeah it will be a tough match obviously.” Murray said of the Kokkanakis challenge “I practiced with him a lot and have spent a lot of time watching him as well, and speaking to him. So I know for one of the younger guys, I know his game better than most. “You know we have practiced together at the French Open and the US Open, we obviously played doubles together as well in Miami, so I know his game well and obviously it will be a tough match. But at the same time it’s a tough match-up for him as well, you know the atmosphere is going to be challenging for them as well, and that’s something that will hopefully give us a big boost.
The Aussie meanwhile is relishing the opportunity to play one of the world’s best players on this big of a stage. “Yeah should be a great challenge up ahead, great player and to play him in his home ground in Glasgow will be a huge opportunity for me. I like the courts here, boys have been training really well, and it’s going to be a huge honour to play. Thank you guys for picking me again, and to play first up, I’ll be ready to go.” Kokkanakis said.
The only time these two met was two years ago at the US Open when Evans shocked Tomic with a four sets win. The Australian number one will now look to avenge that loss in the second rubber tomorrow evening. “Honestly? I was up 6-1 3-0 and couldn’t make a ball after that, and that’s all I remember.” Tomic said in recollection of that match in New York. “It was a very windy day, it was tough, he was very confident at the moment and he beat Nishikori prior to me. So he was playing well, I had a chance, I was comfortable I was cruising, obviously he started playing more free, and he beat me so it’s not an easy match, it’s very tough for me.”
“My game matches up pretty well to him, and that’s what I’ve got to try and do on Friday, play that way again.” Evans said. “Everyone, they do remember when you’ve played someone before, like I remember when I’ve lost to someone before – that’s always in someone’s head as well.” “I think coming back to Scotland is nice, I mean the atmosphere last time when I watched it on television sounded very good but it was obviously better in the stadium so yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
You can catch all the Davis Cup action on Tennis Atlantic.
Roger Federer failed to put together consecutive top class performances, and it was Novak Djokovic who once again walked away with the Wimbledon title. The 2015 trophy is his third at the All-England club, and he’s the first repeat winner at Wimbledon on the men’s side since Federer in the mid 2000’s. Djokovic has now won two slams this year, and continues to be secure in the world #1 ranking spot, as he’s the best player in the men’s game right now by some margin.
Djokovic beat Federer in three hours, and four sets 7-6(1) 6-7(10) 6-4 6-3, as Federer fought hard to try and get the first two sets, but his quality declined over the final two frames. In set 1 Federer went up a break 4-2, but lost his serve the next game, he would later have two set point chances on Djokovic’s serve at 5-6, but Novak saved them both in a long service game, and then rolled through the tiebreak as Federer’s chances disappeared.
The Swiss would fight back in the second, even after failing to convert two more break point chances at 2-2. He staved off a set point serving 4-5, and then in the second set tiebreak saved an incredible six set points, including three consecutive down 3-6 in the tiebreak, before finally converting his second set point serving 11-10 in the tiebreak.
At this point Djokovic was angry, but he used that anger to fuel his game to another gear, a gear that Federer lacked. After dealing with an assault of winners from Fed, and some sloppy errors on his part in the first two sets, Djokovic buckled down and broke for 2-1 in the third, after failing to convert two break points in the opening service game of set 3. There would be a rain delay a couple of games later, but Federer didn’t look any better coming out of it, as Djokovic held the rest of the way and took the third 6-4, forcing Federer into a difficult position.
In set 4, Federer appeared to struggle with the wind and his error count went up considerably, he lost his serve at 2-3, and never recovered, failing to generate a break point on the Djokovic serve. At 3-5 he was broken again, gifting Djokovic the match on his first match point. Statistically, both men served at a similar level, but Djokovic was more efficient facing break point, as he saved 6 out of 7, while Fed saved 6 of 10, after previously only being broken once all tournament. Djokovic was also cleaner from the baseline as he slapped 46 winners compared to 16 errors, while Federer had a 58/35 spread. Simply put, Djokovic’s superior returning was enough to win the day against his elder rival as the Serbian sporting legend demonstrated he has shaken off any mental cobwebs from his shocking French Open final defeat to Wawrinka.
Surely Djokovic will enter the summer Masters tournaments, and the US Open as the favorite as he bids to win 3 out of 4 slams on the season. Federer meanwhile demonstrated he still has more good matches left in him, as his play at times this week was fantastic, even compared to his level of play in his prime. Winning a five set match against a physical opponent will likely continue to be a tough ask in a slam final, but Federer remains as the world #2 for good reason, and his longevity and grace is something to behold, as we truly are in a great era for men’s tennis.
In the second week, it was infact Djokovic that had to fight harder to reach the final, he shockingly went down 2-0 against Kevin Anderson, as the South African won a pair of tough tiebreaks 8-6 and was serving at a peak level, a level Djokovic was dazed by. The world #1 would do what world #1’s do however, as he found the spirit within himself to wake up, and remind Anderson beating the best in the world doesn’t come easy. He won the third set 6-1, and the fourth 6-4 as Anderson collapsed under the pressure of trying to pull off what would have been a massive upset. At this point, darkness suspended the match, and the next day Djokovic came out and won the fifth set 7-5. Anderson fought harder than expected to try to recover and finish the upset, but Djokovic had that extra gear that Kev couldn’t reach, in what was the biggest test for Novak of the 2015 tournament.
He went on to roll past a fatigued Marin Cilic in straights 6-4 6-4 6-4, and then outplayed, and outworked Richard Gasquet, a surprise semifinalist 7-6(2) 6-4 6-4. Gasquet played some of the best tennis of his career, as he upset Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals 11-9 in the 5th set. Wawrinka played well overall, as grass isn’t his best fit as a surface, and his first four wins were great, but Gasquet’s backhand befuddled him and he couldn’t get over the hump. It was an accomplishment for the classy French veteran to reach a grand slam semifinal as a 21 seed regardless, in round 4 Gasquet beat Nick Kyrgios in a close fourth set tiebreak, erasing the awful memory of his defeat last year against the volatile young Aussie.
As for Federer, he had little trouble against Roberto Bautista Agut, who was hampered by a sprained ankle and fell in straights, and then he beat Gilles Simon, another Frenchman who had a successful tournament, but had little to threaten the world #2. Simon beat Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych on the week, but lost to Federer in 3 sets. In the semis, it was Andy Murray, who was also playing great tennis at Wimbledon. Murray came into the match as a slight favorite after a pair of week two wins over the big serving Ivo Karlovic in four sets, and surprise quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil in three sets. Pospisil was the player who took advantage of the soft section in the draw, and reached his first ever slam quarterfinal, as he continues to occasionally show he still is a player with promise, especially on fast surfaces that suit his underrated serve.
Murray didn’t play poorly at all against Federer as he kept his first serve % high, and his error count relatively low, but Federer was simply stunning, putting up one of the serving performances of his career. The world #3 and UK number #1 often failed to generate even half chances against the Federer serve, and the Swiss broke when needed with his controlled aggression, world-class forehand and crisp volleys to take the match 7-5 7-5 6-4. His home fan base was certainly disappointed, but Murray really did all he could this tournament, and Federer on the day was just too good for anyone, as Murray again came up short in his quest to win another Wimbledon. All the same he’s had a good, and consistently top-tier year as he appears healthy, and happy with his tennis.
In the men’s doubles a surprise final took place as the #4 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer, and Horia Tecau beat Jamie Murray, the brother of Andy, and his partner John Peers the #13 seeds 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4. Tecau had previously come up short in Wimbledon finals, so finally taking the championship was a major career highlight for him. A qualifying team of Jonathan Erlich and Philipp Petzschner reached the semifinals, beating #2 seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the process, while the Bryan brothers lost in the quarterfinals to Florin Mergea and Rohan Bopanna.
The (primarily) North American hard court summer will begin in earnest for many of the worlds top players now as the focus shifts towards the US Open Series, on the road to the 2015 US Open, as many great matches have yet to be played in 2015.