Fish Puts U.S. Back in Davis Cup World Group; Federer Missing
WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS
France d. Argentina 5-0
The French blanked the Argentines on their home lightning-quick indoor hardcourt, where on Friday Michael Llodra defeated Juan Monaco in four sets, and Gael Monfils did likewise to David Nalbandian. On Saturday Llodra teamed with Arnaud Clement to stake the tie, defeating Argentina’s Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos in straight sets.
“Playing Serbia [in the final], well that’s another story,” said French captain Guy Forget. “You know how hot the crowd will be over there, wanting to win the Davis Cup for the first time. It would be a nightmare for the players but they’re not young and they have experience and will be ready for the task. They will have to play at their best and if we do that and win it will be one of the biggest upsets in Davis Cup, like we did a few years ago in Australia.”
Serbia d. Czech Republic 3-2
Novak Djokovic defeated Tomas Berdych in four sets to force a deciding fifth rubber, then Janko Tipsarevic continued the Serb heroics, defeating Radek “The Worm” Stepanek in straights.
Djokovic injured his knee against Berdych, but returned to the court with strapping below the right knee. “It woke me up,” Djokovic said of the fall and injury. “I didn’t feel great at the start of the match, Tomas was playing much better, and I needed something to happen, so maybe it was a sign.”
It is the first trip to the World Group final for Serbia.
WORLD GROUP PLAYOFFS
U.S. d. Colombia 3-2
American Mardy Fish was the iron man of the weekend, winning his opening singles on Friday, the doubles on Saturday with partner John Isner, and on Sunday winning a marathon 8-6 in the fifth set over Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo. Giralso earned a break late in the fifth set but could not serve out the match.
The 29-year-old and Isner on Saturday needed four sets to defeat Colombia’s Robert Farah and Carlos Salamanca.
Kazakhstan d. Switzerland 5-0
Roger Federer let Switzerland slide into obscurity, and also perhaps Federer’s chance of winning the Davis Cup before his career ends, when Switzerland was swept 5-0 by Kazakhstan in the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs. Federer ducked out of the match, citing a need for rest after losing in the semifinals of the US Open.
Kazakhstan was appearing in its first Davis Cup World Group Playoffs since becoming a Davis Cup nation in 1995, while Switzerland by contrast had spent only one year (2008) out of the World Group in the last 15 years. Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev defeated Marco Chiudinelli in the first match Friday, then Mikhail Kukushkin shocked Stan Wawrinka in five sets. Golubev and Yuriy Schukin then sealed the deal in the doubles, defeating Swiss Yves Allegro and Wawrinka. Switzerland now drops into zonal competition for 2011.
India d. Brazil 3-2
Down 0-2 after Friday, the Indian squad rallied over Saturday and Sunday, going undefeated over the two days to shock Brazil and advance into the World Group for 2011. The legendary doubles squad of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes put India on the board Saturday in straight sets, setting the table for Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna to redeem themselves on Sunday.
Devvarman won the Sunday opener when opponent Thomaz Bellucci retired from heat exhaustion in the second set, and Bopanna played inspired serve-and-volley tennis to straight-set Ricardo Mello in the decider.
Austria d. Israel 3-2
Down 1-2 after the Saturday doubles, Jurgen Melzer evened the tie after the first Sunday singles, rolling Dudi Sela in straight sets, setting the table for the unheralded Martin Fischer who came from a set down to defeat Harel Levy in four.
“I knew I was good enough to beat Harel,” said the Davis Cup rookie Fischer. “I just played my game and even though the crowd was very loud I made myself think that they were screaming for me.”
Sweden d. Italy 3-2
Robin Soderling clinched the tie in the first singles on Sunday, beating Italy’s Simone Bolelli in straight sets. Italy’s Potito Starace claimed Italy’s only live point in the first match on Friday, allowing Andreas Vinciguerra only six games.
The Italians blew a 2-0 set lead in the doubles on Saturday. “A different surface and, I think, a different player now,” said Bolelli, who had beaten Soderling before on clay, but found the match a different matter on the slick indoor hardcourt. “He was strong also when I played him, but now he’s five in the world, he’s won many important matches, he’s improved a lot. His serve was almost impossible to play today.”
Germany d. South Africa 5-0
Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer did the initial damage for the host Germans on Friday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead when Kohlschreiber defeated Rik de Voest in straights, and Mayer overcame unheralded Izak Van der Merwe in a fourth-set tiebreak. The German doubles specialist squad of Andreas Beck and Christopher Kas sealed the tie on Saturday, topping de Voest and Weslie Moodie in four sets to retain their spot in the 2011 World Group.
Romania d. Ecuador 5-0
Ecuador floundered without Nicolas Lapentti as Romania’s Victor Hanescu and Adrain Angur lead the home country toward victory with Friday singles victories. On Saturday Hanescu and Horia Tecau sealed the tie in the doubles, easily defeating Giovanni Lapentti and Ivan Endara in straight sets.
Australia leads Belgium 2-1
Heavy rains have postponed the tie until Monday, with Australia leading 2-1, and Aussie Peter Luczak and Belgian Olivier Rochus tied at 4-4, 15-all. Luczak replaced former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who strained his wrist during the straight-set Saturday doubles win for Australia.
If the rubber advances to a fifth live match, penciled in are Carsten Ball for Australia and Steve Darcis for Belgium.
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