Davis Cup Wrap: Czechs at Croatia, Israel at Spain in Semis
by Staff | July 12th, 2009, 3:03 pm
  • 26 Comments

Czech Republic d. Argentina 3-2

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro evened the tie on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Tomas Berdych, setting the stage for Radek “The Worm” Stepanek to become the hero. Stepanek, who was a doubles-only insert over the weekend due to an injured knee, nonetheless replaced Ivo Minar and propelled the Czechs into the semifinals with a 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2 win over Juan Monaco. The Czechs will travel in September to face Croatia.


Croatia d. U.S. 3-1

The Bryan brothers drew the U.S. to within a match on Saturday after they lost both the opening singles, but Marin Cilic proved too strong for James Blake in the opening singles on Sunday, defeating the American 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Blake and Fish lost both of the opening matches on Friday in five sets. The absence of the injured Andy Roddick proved costly as Blake drops to 1-6 in live Davis Cup singles matches on clay. Maybe time to introduce Sam Querrey into the U.S. Davis Cup on-clay mix?

Israel d. Russia 4-1

Israel had clinched by Saturday after Harel Levy defeated Igor Andreev and Dudi Sela decimated Mikhail Youzhny in the singles, and the standout doubles tandem of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram edged Igor Kunitsyn and former No. 1 Marat Safin in five in Safin’s final Davis Cup appearance.

Spain d. Germany 3-2

Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber earned a gutsy 8-6 in the fifth win over Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco in the first singles on Sunday to draw the tie to a fifth and deciding singles match. Unfortunately Germany did not have the depth of bench of the Spaniards, and former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero became the clincher for the homecountry team, defeating Germany’s Andreas Beck 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The defending champion Spaniards will host Israel in the semifinals in September.


Also Check Out:
Davis Cup Semifinals, Playoffs Preview
Spain, Stepanek-led Czech Republic Advance to 2009 Davis Cup Final
Davis Cup Doubles: Israel Upsets Powerhouse Russia, U.S. Alive
Federer v Nadal in 1st Rd of 2010 Davis Cup
Davis Cup Playoffs: Serbia Goes To India, Spain Travels To Brazil

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26 Comments for Davis Cup Wrap: Czechs at Croatia, Israel at Spain in Semis

Dave B Says:

Boy, I wonder if Patrick McEnroe’s tenure is now in trouble. He hasn’t exactly been working wonders. Surely the US should have enough depth to replace Roddick.


Von Says:

James Blake has proven what I’ve been saying all along, and that is, he’s piggy-backed on Andy Roddick’s superb performance in DC which has gotten Blake a DC medal.

Inasmuch as some don’t want to admit it, Roddick IS the team leader for the US DC team, as has been manifested in the tie USA v. Croatia, and Patrick McEnroe now has to put some serious thought as to what he should do with respect to Blake. I had thought, considering Blake’s dismal showing at Wimby, and his repeated statements with respect to his ‘mental tiredness’ again, after losing in the first round at Wimby, which seems to be Blake’s new go to excuse whenever he loses, PMc would have dropped Blake from DC. McEnroe could have used Jessie Levine to replace Blake, since Jesse got to R32 at Wimby, losing to Wawrinka. Also, Querrey should have been the logical choice or the ‘go to’ player when Roddick pulled out, considering how much Sam pushed Nadal at Madrid last year in DC, his huge serve, forehand and decent ground game coupled with his performance at Monte Carlo in ’08, which demonstrated Sam can play on clay. Instead PMc stuck with Blake who has disappointed once again, and went with Mardy Fish, who didn’t show up in his match v. Djokovic at Wimby — two no show guys.

Oh well, it’ll have to be next year for the US now. Blake needs to see a sports psychologist or consider playing doubles if he wants to remain on the tour, because he’s not cutting it as a singles player.


funches Says:

Jesse Levine?

As poorly as Blake has played, it’s comments like yours that keep me defending him. Were you attempting comedy there? Levine’s worst surface is clay and he has not won 10 tour-level matches in his career. Blake has won 10 tournaments.

The original story’s suggestion of Querry is reasonable. Although his results on clay outside of Davis Cup have been much worse than Blake’s, he can’t do any worse than going 0-6.

I agree with the sports pyschologist suggestion, though. Losing to a guy who’s never won a five-set match after going up two sets to none, as Blake did with Karlovic, then blaming the rude crowd (is there any other kind in Davis Cup?) is the worst kind of excuse-making.


Von Says:

Did you read my comment thoroughly? I said, based on Jesse’s Wimby performance, he could have substituted for Blake. Jesse had some momentum from Wimby, whereas Blake had none. Blake has complaining of being ‘mentally tired’. Regardless of how many tournaments Blake has won, if he’s mentally tired translated to being useless in my book. What good does it serve the team to have someone on board with that kind of thought processes? None. And, why would a captain stick with a ‘mentally tired ‘ player, when there are other players who are not ‘mentally tired’? Could Jesse have done any worse than Blake did? Sam Auerrey got to the QF in ’08 at MC, and he played very well against nadal on clay at Madrid..


Von Says:

‘Auerrey’ should be ‘Querrey’.


Andrew Miller Says:

GASP: What to do in the post-Roddick era?

The U.S. performance in Croatia was awful. I thought Pat Mac considered Davis Cup as the “training” for the next gen. of U.S. players. Using that logic: why the heck was Querrey, who just won Newport (admittedly a small tournament) back in the States, not on the team?

That was bad judgement. Pat Mac should have known there would be a day when his star could not commit to Davis Cup, and been training the next gen. of players to step up. Pat Mac is now Responsible for training the next gen. anyhows.

If this is not a wake up call for Pat Mac (who admittedly has been solely responsible for the U.S. return to davis cup relevance – by that I mean he has gotten his players involved and created a real team with Roddick leading the charge), then i dont know what is. This is a bad result for the U.S. They should have handled Karlovic on clay. This is James Blake’s fault and in so far as he’s complaining,

he knows it too.


Andrew Miller Says:

Speaking of Querrey: he better start evolving fast as a player! Even though this year’s Wimbledon shows that more seasoned players are often more skilled players (age 26 roddick, 27 federer, 31 haas, and murray who plays as wisely as that trio), Querrey should learn from Roddick’s drastic changes and make himself relevant.

Easier said than done – Roddick has spent the last three years making himself a better player – it is all blood and sweat and guts, and fun too. But someone else in U.S. tennis must step up. Blake must stop making excuses.

If he makes excuses, he will live with them and they will confirm the overwhelming reality that his game has not improved.


Andrew Miller Says:

In fact: Querrey should dust off the tape from this year’s Wimbledon final and make himself a slam contender. No excuses.


Ari Says:

blake from the beginning was a bad choice. querry was the guy to go too. pmac scrud up big. congrats croats!


Sean Randall Says:

Jesse Levine? Not a clay.

Querrey would have been a better choice, but Patrick may not have wanted to upset the apple cart per se and pick some over James.

That said, I doubt even Sam would have overcome Team Croatia. He couldn’t beat Rajeev Ram today…


kekery Says:

It is too bad that Roddick did not go. I know he was emotionally and physically drained. but frankly he IS the backbone of the US team. He would have done better than either of the others even with his deep Wimbledon run. Without their backbone, the team jellyflopped into defeat once again. Roddick should have gutted it out and skipped Indy of which he is the only big name going there. He could have rested for a few days and had almost a week to be ready for Davis Cup. He has committed to that cause and he should not withdraw regardless. McEnroe should be able to count on his commmitment until passes the torch on to others….Roddick showed little respect to McEnroe, who, through thick and thin has always been there for Roddick. Had he gone, the US would have continued on for another run at Davis Cup.


Giner Says:

You have to admit though, Croatia is pretty strong right now. They didn’t even require the services of Ancic and Ljubicic who are both long time heroes of DC in Croatia. They beat the US in the US back in 05, upsetting Roddick, the Bryans, and Agassi.

kekery Says:

“It is too bad that Roddick did not go. I know he was emotionally and physically drained. but frankly he IS the backbone of the US team.”

Blame the DC scheduling. He had a busy 2 weeks at Wimby, playing an epic final. There’s no way he can play DC the weekend after. No sane person would. Some people have suggested a change in the format. Host it over a month, continuously instead of broken into 4 ties. This way, when your best players are available, they’ll be available for the entire 4 ties, and not just one. Some have suggested making it held once every 2 years instead of annually.

I don’t think Roddick pulled out because of mental fatigue of losing a heart breaking final. It was more physical.

If Spain beats Israel (and they should), then they will either host Czech Repulic or they will visit Croatia. If they visit Croatia, it will be tough, but I don’t think the Czechs stand much chance against Spain in Spain.


Dave B Says:

Although I like PMac a lot I think he runs the US Davis Cup team like a frat. He needed to reach out and be daring in his selection of players. Patrick should step aside and let someone with a little more fire take over. Any how PMac is so busy with his television commitments he’ll be fine.


MMT Says:

Giner said: “Some people have suggested a change in the format. Host it over a month, continuously instead of broken into 4 ties. This way, when your best players are available, they’ll be available for the entire 4 ties, and not just one. Some have suggested making it held once every 2 years instead of annually.”

These are very interesting points. Fed Cup was originally held over 1 week, but it’s now stretched out over the year. The only problem with holding it over, let’s say, 2 weeks, is when to do it? The schedule is already so tight as it is – who/what would make way for it? It would basically be another slam.


tennisontherocks Says:

Giner said: “Some people have suggested a change in the format. Host it over a month, continuously instead of broken into 4 ties. This way, when your best players are available, they’ll be available for the entire 4 ties, and not just one. Some have suggested making it held once every 2 years instead of annually.”

On the other hand, when the best players are not available for that one month, they wait for another 2 years.

I like the 2 year rotation, but with current format, esp. home/away ties. Just start with full 64 size draw and spread 6 rounds over 2 years and avoid all the regional confusions. Also, the surface choice should be made consistent with the flavor of the season or choose surface transition dates to protect players health.

No matter what the format is, players like Andy/Rafa have found the way to play and players like Roger will skip them when it clashes with their personal goals.


MMT Says:

I said some time ago that I felt Davis Cup may not have been so good for Blake career, but it appears he hasn’t really pulled his weight for the US team either.

There’s a quote on craighickman’s blog from him saying that there’s a lot more pressure on the #1 player, and as such he has a lot of respect for Roddick for how he has handled that position. I would concur with that, but for one caveat – I don’t think it’s a question of being #1 or #2, I think it’s in the absence of a player who’s guaranteed (in most scenarios) to get at least 1 point on all surfaces, that poses the biggest problem for Blake – for him the real pressure comes from playing DC without Roddick.

The irony is that Blake is still physicallly very competitive and due to lost time from his injuries, could be in an Agassi situation in terms of longevity, but he’ll also have to make spectacular adjustments – adjustments I have the feeling he’s not willing to make.

At this point, if I were Patrick McEnroe, I’d go with Querrey next year and drop Blake until (and that’s really could read “only if”) he develops some kind of independent resurgence in his career. At this point, between the two of them, it seems to me that Querry is the one who can still be saved.


MMT Says:

tennisontherocks: To me the problem is that it lasts throughout the year, rather than at one moment in time.

Why not in the even years between Olympics have the Davis Cup at one time when the season is relatively empty. Perhaps October, and rotate the venue?


Von Says:

This was Blake’s opportunity to shine, to show that he could step up in Roddick’s absence and pull the team through, but as always, he’s failed miserably. The pressure was always on Roddick to win both points, and most of the time to win the first DC point in the ties. Regardless of whether Blake plays first or second on the first day, he more or less 90% of the time, fails to win his point, which places more pressure on Roddick to have to win his and/or the remaining singles live rubber points.

When the US played vs. Switzerland, Blake played the first live rubber v. Wawrinka, and as usual lost. And again, it was Roddick who had to win the second live rubber, the Bryans the third, and Roddick closed it out with his 4th live rubber win. Blake won zero points. This scenario is played out 90 per cent of the time. Thus, of what beneficial purpose is Blake’s presence on the team? He can’t win when he’s lead-off, and he can’t win, even after Roddick wins the first point. As a matter of fact, Blake even struggles to win the dead rubb er points on quite a few occasions. It’s the reason Andy’s been dubbed as ‘the closer’ and/or ‘team leader’. Blake’s always gotten a free pass for his inability to win the crucial live rubbers, as can be seen by some of the mild comments here.
________________
“Roddick should have gutted it out and skipped Indy of which he is the only big name going there.” kechery

Aren’t we forgetting something here? Roddick is nursing a right hip flexor injury, so why should Roddick have to ‘gut’ out anything? Why can’t Blake for once step up and win? Is he on the team just to make up number and/or for decorative purposes? It’s definitely looked that way for quite some time now. Blake needs to pull his own weight. His performance in DC is tantamount to that of an invisible No. 2 player.

“McEnroe should be able to count on his commmitment until passes the torch on to others….Roddick showed little respect to McEnroe, who, through thick and thin has always been there for Roddick.”

How could an injured Roddick be showing disrespect to McEnroe? Roddick has been the stalwart of the present Davis Cup team. He’s had on many occasions placed Davis cup before his own career, and it’s the second time he’s missed playing a tie in over 4 years. To me this shows a huge commitment to Davis Cup. However, there’s that little problem of ‘James Blake’ who’s demonstrated once again, he can’t win his own live rubbers, with or without Roddick’s presence, which translates to Blake looking good and/or somewhat valuable due to Roddick’s hard work.
_________________
MMT: “The irony is that Blake is still physicallly very competitive and due to lost time from his injuries, could be in an Agassi situation in terms of longevity, but he’ll also have to make spectacular adjustments – adjustments I have the feeling he’s not willing to make.”

I remember having a discussion you with respect to Blake’s injures in which you stated that it happens all of the time with many players who’ve b een injured so Blake just has to learn to live with it (not verbatim). Anyway, how many injuries has Blake had apart from the injury in 2005? None of any great significance that I can recall. The truth of the matter is, Blake does not want to change anything with respct to his game, style of play and/or putting in the hard work that’s required, and, as a result of his mind-set he’s remained stagnant. and then again, why should he knock himself to win live rubbers in Davis cup when there’s good old Andy roddick to soak of the pressure and deliver the ‘W’.

Blake’s been harping over the past two years on ‘mental tiredness’ whenever he’s lost early at any GS. After Blake lost at Wimby he complained of being ‘mentally tired’ again. When the US had to play Spain, Blake was again complaing of being ‘mentally tired’. End result he got a free pass and didn’t have to play to face the humiliation of losing to the Spaniards. And, when Roddick pulled out last week, Blake again, used his ‘go to’ excuse by talking of being ‘mentaly tired’. Why didn’t James just level with Patrick McEnroe and transmit his mind-set to PMc? Instead, Blake played, and when he lost he blamed it on the crowd. Is Blake a novice? I don’t think so. Considering the many times he’s played in DC, I think by now he should be accustomed to the DC crowd and it should be the least of his problems. But, as always, Blake has a go to excuse. If it’s not the commentators who are influencing his match play, it’s mental tiredness, and now it’s the crowd.

Blake’s problem can be summed up to: Blake has piggy-backed on Andy Roddick’s DC performance, which has gotten Blake a DC medal, and made him look good as a DC player, when in truth, Blake simply can’t cut it as a reliable player to win live rubbers with or without Roddick.

I know one thing’s for a certainty, had it been Roddick who’d been putting in such dismal numbers in DC, he’d be crucified by the press, the Johnnie McEnroes and everybody and his brother. I’d bet the next time Johnnie Mc gets on the air h’ll again begin to criticize Roddick. Roddick is the Rodney Dangerfield of American tennis: ‘I get no respect’.


MMT Says:

“I remember having a discussion you with respect to Blake’s injures in which you stated that it happens all of the time with many players who’ve b een injured so Blake just has to learn to live with it (not verbatim).”

I don’t remember that discussion. I have said players who play with “injuries” shouldn’t use them as excuses.

I’m referring to are the broken neck and shingles he suffered in spring of 2004, which curtailed his schedule until midway through 2005.

Blakes biggest problem is his inability to stay in points and transition to attack – the best players on tour are lightning quick in their transition from defense to offense – Monfils is a good example of (almost) all defense, but little transition to attack. Blake is all attack, and even when he’s defending tryies to hit winners.

The problem with Blake is there too little in between. Even when he claimed he was trying to play the way commentators were saying he should play he was only half-correct – basically he needs to stay in the point with defense and then more effectively transition to attack. The subtlety of this approach seems to be lost on him and his coach.


scineram Says:

No fix for unbroken.


jane Says:

Von says “Roddick is the Rodney Dangerfield of American tennis: ‘I get no respect’.”

LOL – that’s a good one. Maybe Roddick is a touch less goofy? ; D But he’s got a comic streak, do doubt.


jane Says:

MMT says “the best players on tour are lightning quick in their transition from defense to offense”

This sums it up.

The players need to find a balance between the two, and know when to use which style. I think Nadal and Fed have it down. Djoko could be a touch more patient sometimes, and a touch more aggressive at others. Murray definitely could attack more. Roddick seems to be finding the balance – when to go for lights-out forehands, when to use the right approach shot and come it, when to stay back and slice a few balls.

That’s the key – moving between the two modes.

MMT – have you ever thought of coaching?!


I like tennis bullies Says:

Croatia d. U.S. 3-1
============

it is croatia def us 3-2


Von Says:

“LOL – that’s a good one. Maybe Roddick is a touch less goofy? ; D But he’s got a comic streak, do doubt.” — jane

I would hope for Roddick’s sake that he’s not compared in looks to Rodney Dangerfield — I doubt Brooke would like that. LOL.


Von Says:

bullies Says:
“it is croatia def us 3-2″

I don’t think Bob Bryan would be too thrilled to know his hard-fought win over Karanusic has been overlooked by Tennis.X. LOL.


Andrew Miller Says:

I like Blake – I dont like Blake’s excuses. I thought he was fearless in dispatching Nadal at the 2005 US Open and posting a 3-0 record over him through the end of 2006. Why? He was just as fast, he pounded his forehand. Since then: two years passed, two straight losses. Same hardcourt surface; Nadal got better, Blake did not.

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