It will be Great Britain hosting Australia (featuring former Wimbledon winners Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt) and Belgium hosting Argentina after the completion of the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals over the weekend:
Great Britain d. France 3-1
Gilles Simon took charge of the tie for France in the opening match against James Ward, but from then on it was the Andy Murray show. Murray opened with a straight-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the Saturday doubles teamed with brother Jamie to beat Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut from a set down, then in the first Sunday singles beat Simon from a set down 6-0 in the fourth.
“When you look at history you see how long it’s been since we have been there, it gives you an idea of how difficult a thing it is to do,” said a tearful Murray after sending Britain into the semifinals against Australia, who also saw through an emotional win. “We also went thought a period where we had Tim [Henman] and Greg [Rusedski] who were two Top 10 players and we never won a World Group match, so that shows you how difficult it is to do. To go into the [semifinals] in September with an opportunity there is fantastic.”
Australia d. Kazakhstan 3-2
Australian men’s tennis is experiencing a new, and some would say embarrassing, era with players such as Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios supplying more theatrics than wins — which is perhaps why veteran and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt needed to step in and right the Aussie ship in classic “C’mon!” fashion on Sunday.
With Australia trailing 0-2 after the first day with losses by Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, Hewitt won the Saturday doubles with veteran journeyman Sam Groth before Groth won the Sunday opening singles, and Hewitt clinched it in the fifth match with a straight set win over No. 115-ranked Aleksandr Nedovyesov (who has beaten Kyrgios on Friday).
“I love the backs-to-the-wall situation and we had to rally together to get the win,” said Hewitt, who saw the Aussies come back from 0-2 down in a Davis Cup match for the first time in 76 years. “You don’t get opportunities like this very often. This is what dreams are made of. The last three or four years, Davis Cup has been as big as any grand slam for me personally.”
Argentina d. Serbia 4-1
Without No. 1 Novak Djokovic playing for Serbia, it was a cakewalk for the Argentines on clay in Buenos Aires as Leo Mayer and Federico Delbonis (coming from two sets down to beat Viktor Troicki) won the opening singles, and Mayer and Carlos Berlocq clinched it in the Saturday doubles.
“In some ties in the past we had four Top 20 players in the world,” said Argentine coach Mariano Hood, noting the team was without top players Juan Martin del Potro and Juan monaco due to injuries. “I remember one time we had [Guillermo] Coria, [David] Nalbandian, [Gaston] Gaudio, [Guillermo] Canas. Today we don’t have this kind of team, but we have a team who really knows what we want and has unbelievable team spirit. We are very proud of that.”
Belgium d. Canada 5-0
The injured Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil for Canada meant the Canucks could front no players in the Top 200 in singles. And it showed. David Goffin and Steve Darcis won the opening Friday singles, and clinched it in the Saturday doubles behind
Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans.
“Even though we were favorites we worked hard,” said Belgian captain Johan van Herck on seeing his squad into the semis for the first time in 16 years. “We were really professional. It’s a team effort and that’s the most important.”
ATP AND WTA EVENTS
‘Rampras’ Downs Karlovic to Claim 2nd ATP Newport Title
Call him the “Indian Pete Sampras” or “Rampras” due to his game’s cosmetic similarities to the former No. 1 — but first call him the two-time Newport champion Rajeev Ram.
The American on Sunday won his second career title at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Rhode Island with a 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(2) win over No. 2 seed Ivo Karlovic. “To say that I felt like I’d be the winner at the end of the week…I had no idea,” said the unseeded Ram, who saved a match point in the first round against top seed John Isner, and two match points in the quarterfinals.
It was the second straight loss in the Newport final for Karlovic, who last year fell to Lleyton Hewitt. Ram entered the event ranked No. 161 and had failed to qualify to ATP main draws in four attempts in 2015.
Schmiedlove Gains Revenge, Beat Errani for WTA Bucharest Crown
No. 7-seeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia upset top-seeded Sara Errani 7-6(3), 6-3 on Sunday for the BRD Bucharest Open crown in Romania.
It was sweet revenge for Schmiedlova who earlier this year was denied the title at the Rio Open in Rio de Janeiro by Errani. “I still cannot believe I won, because it was a really tough match and Sara Errani is an amazing player,” said Schmiedlova on winning her second career title after Katowice earlier this year. “I knew it would be tough to focus on each point today because we would have really, really long rallies.”
The victory in the final was the first Top 20 win for Schmiedlova. “My crosscourt backhand is probably my strongest shot, but I was playing to her forehand sometimes today because I was trying to change it to down the line sometimes,” the Slovak said of her game plan. “I’m just happy it worked.”
Sweden’s Larsson Wins Maiden WTA Title in Bastad
No. 7-seeded Johanna Larsson defeated defending champion and No. 4 seed Mona Barthel 6-3, 7-6(2) to win the Collector Swedish Open on Sunday in Bastad.
“Coming into this tournament I had not won many matches,” said Larsson, who was 0-3 career against Barthel entering the final. “But I tried to just play my game and stick with my topspin, which is my strength out there. In the end of the match I don’t know how it happened, but I won the last point.”
Larsson was also 0-3 in career finals entering the Bastad championship match. Following the singles final she became the first player to win both the singles and doubles at a WTA event this year, teaming with Kiki Bertens to top Tatjana Maria and Olga Savchuk 7-5, 6-4.
Top-seeded Serena Williams withdrew from the tournament after her opening-round win citing elbow pain.
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