Davis Cup World Group Playoff Recap

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 19•11

Last night I tackled the teams still in contention for the title, or at least most recently ousted from the competition. Tonight, we’ll take a look at the relegation ties. Sometimes relegation ties provide just as much drama as the World Group because countries often bust out the big guns in hopes of keeping their spot in the World Group. Also, it’s the year before the Olympics which means all those top players who usually skip out on Davis Cup because of their busy schedules are making themselves available to maintain their Olympic eligibility.

Czech Republic def. Romania 5-0

This is what we could call a no drama tie. Even given the advantage of a home tie, when none of your players are ranked near the Top 100, it’s tough to beat a team like the Czech Republic. The Czechs make lack some depth, but they have two excellent singles players in Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, which is really all they needed to sweep this tie. Romania was unfortunately lacking it’s main man, Victor Hanescu, although I don’t think that would have made much of a difference.

Dima always comes prepared. Photo via REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Russia def. Brazil 3-2

The idea of Russia falling out of the World Group kind of threw me for a loop. Russia won the Davis Cup twice in the last ten years, and finished runner up three more times in the last twenty. I definitely miss the days of Marat, but the current team isn’t too shabby either. Mikhail Youzhny, Dmitry Tursunov, Igor Kunitsyn, and Igor Andreev are all talented singles players in their own right, so as a team they should have had little trouble subduing the Brazilians, who were pretty much counting on Thomaz Bellucci. Mikhail Youzhny put in a heroic performance in the fourth rubber to send the tie to a fifth. He beat Thomaz Bellucci 14-12 in the fifth set. That meant that the fate of the tie rested in the hands of Dmitry Tursunov, who Coach Shamil Tarpischev subbed in for Igor Andreev. Dmitry was able to keep his nerves in check and defeated Ricardo Mello in four sets. Most importantly, Dima was a true team player and very emphatically cheered on Youzhny before his match. Look, he even brought props!

Canada def. Israel 3-2

The Canadians celebrate Vasek Pospisil's amazing Davis Cup run. Photo via REUTERS/Nir Elias

Anyone think Vasek Pospisil was going to be a Davis Cup hero? Does anyone actually know what Vasek Pospisil looks like? Well, now you do. Milos Raonic may be the next big thing, but this was his first week back since Wimbledon and he was understandably quite rusty, losing to Amir Weintraub (yeah, I had no idea who he was either) in four sets in the second rubber. Pospisil basically managed to win this tie all on his own, with an assist from Daniel Nestor in the doubles. That’s not something a lot of guys can say they’ve done, certainly not a lot of guys ranked 124 in the world. Vasek beat Israel No. 1, Dudi Sela in a grueling five set match to give Canada a 1-0 lead before Weintraub evened things up 1-1. Teaming up with world class doubles player Daniel Nestor, the duo beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, a well established doubles team. Finally, after Peter Polansky dropped the fourth rubber to Sela, Pospisil kept his cool in an easy three set victory over Weintraub. The guy only recently turned 21. Perhaps we’ll be seeing more of him?

Croatia def. South Africa 4-1

Kevin Anderson did his part for South Africa, but the rest of the team fell a little short. Granted, it was a tall order considering Marin Cilic played in three of the remaining four rubbers and he’s ranked significantly higher than any of the South Africans, with the exception of Anderson who is only eight spots below Marin in the rankings. On a side note, the fifth rubber was a match between Raven Klaasen and Nikola Mektic. Yeah, that’s what happens in dead rubbers.

Italy def. Chile 4-1

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t strictly paying attention to this tie. I know that poor, injury plagued, Fernando Gonzalez was forced to retire in his match against Fabio Fognini. This deeply saddened me as I know Fernando was gutted, but also because it meant that Fabio Fognini won, which I find disturbing. It appears that the Chileans were carrying a few guys who weren’t quite at fully capacity. Both Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu retired in their matches, although I’m not entirely sure Massu would have retired from a live rubber. Anyway, Italy’s in the World Group, which means more Fabio.

Japan def. India 4-1

Neither of these countries could be called a tennis powerhouse. In its 74 year Davis Cup history, India has only been part of the World Group 12 times, while Japan has only made it 2 times in 73 tries. So, you can imagine that this was a pretty coveted spot for both teams. No. 175, Yuichi Sugita was very impressive in his straight sets victory over Somdev Devvarman, who can be incredibly tricky. Kei Nishikori easily won both of his matches, which was great to see since he’s spent so much time injured lately. The Indian team has several very talented doubles players, so even though they were missing Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna were able to take care of the doubles rubber. Overall, this was an impressive victory for Japan, but they may have a tough time in the World Group.

Belgium def. Austria 4-1

When I saw this match up, I certainly did not expect that the only win for Belgium would be Steve Darcis over Jurgen Melzer. That one confused me a bit. I was also impressed with Andreas Haider-Maurer’s victory over Xavier Malisse, who seems to have a serious confidence issue going on. I’m guessing this was behind Belgium’s decision to send Oli Rochus in for reverse singles. Either way, Darcis was the only one to score a win for Belgium.

Hewitt and Tomic share an embrace after Hewitt and Guccione won the doubles rubber. Photo via @zoejrogers.

Switzerland def. Australia 3-2

This isn’t the kind of tie you usually associate with the playoffs. In fact, in 2003, this was a semifinal. Even more interestingly, the same two guys who headlined the tie in ’03 were the headliners this weekend. Just last week Federer said that his five set loss to Lleyton in that tie, giving Australia the win, was tougher than his five set loss to Djokovic in the US Open semifinals, where he held two match points. Frankly, I was looking forward to this more than the World Group matches. Unfortunately, it wasn’t televised, at least here in the States, which meant we were all forced to search for crappy streams. Considering Hewitt was injured enough to skip out on the US Open just a few weeks ago, most people would assume Switzerland held the advantage, particularly since the grass surface definitely played to Roger’s strengths. But never underestimate the fight of Lleyton Hewitt when it comes to Davis Cup! He may not be at his fittest, but he took a set off Federer, won the doubles, and took Stan Wawrinka to five sets in the final rubber. Remember how I said David Nalbandian is kind of obsessed with Davis Cup, well I think Lleyton is its second biggest devotee. Also, I have to give a lot of credit to Bernard Tomic, who scored a big win over Stan in the first rubber and took a set off Federer in the fourth. Pretty impressive stuff from the young Aussie. Despite all the controversy, it seems Lleyton and Bernard have put aside their differences, or at least that’s what I’m getting from this embrace. Is it just me, or do they look like they’re about to make out?

Not to be outdone, Federer wanted to make sure everyone knew that he was willing to do anything his good friend Stan needed to come back on Monday and win the fifth set against Hewitt. This video is extremely sweet, but perhaps bordering on creepy. You decide.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2011-2017 A Change of Ends All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

Theme Customization by Fitr Theme Options