Davis Cup World Group -- Qualifying Roundup

Posted on September 25, 2005

Austria leads Ecuador 2-1

Going into the final day of Davis Cup play against a Lapentti brother, does it matter if your team is leading 2-1 or down 1-2?

Nicolas Lapentti was on the team that beat Argentina on the final day in 1999, and Giovanni won the final singles to oust Great Britain in 2000. Giovanni again won the final match in 2003 to defeat the Marcelo Rios-led Chileans. Confucius say, "It is wise to never underestimate the Lapentti brothers," and a sweating Austrian captain Thomas Muster knows it, even after taking a 2-1 lead on Saturday.

"Ecuador are a dangerous team and you just never know what will happen on the final day," Muster said.

The Austrians took a 2-1 lead Saturday when last-minute-substitute Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowle came from behind to defeat the Lapentti brothers 2-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3.

On Sunday Melzer will open for Austria against Nicolas Lapentti, who again hopes to set up brother Giovanni for the final-rubber heroics against Stefan Koubek.

Canada leads Belarus 2-1

Canadian stalwart Daniel Nestor recovered from a hip injury that forced him to retire from his singles Friday, on Saturday teaming with Frederic Niemeyer to defeat Belarus' Max "The Beast" Mirnyi and Vladimir "The Vladiator" Voltchkov 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(6) to put the Canadians within one win of the 2006 World Group.

On Sunday Frank Dancevic will front for Canada against Mirnyi, with Nestor if necessary facing Voltchkov in the fifth rubber.

Chile d. Pakistan 3-0

Chile retained its rightful place in the 2006 Davis Cup World group Sunday when Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu pounded hapless Pakistanis Aqeel Khan and Aisam Qureshi 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. (Sidenote: Props to the Pakistan team for reaching the World Group playoff with players who barely compete at the "double-A" Futures-level events on tour).

Germany leads Czech Republic 2-1

Tommy Haas and Alexander Waske stage a stunning 3-1/2 hour comeback to defeat Czechs Frantisek Cermak and Leos Friedl 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 to put the Germans one match from a spot in the 2006 World Group.

"I am exhausted and nothing is decided yet," said Haas, who will be physically tested in the fifth and final match if teammate Nicolas Kiefer fails to tame Czech Tomas Berdych in the Sunday opener. "I was pure adrenalin."

Italy leads Spain 2-1

Who says you can't beat Spain on clay?

Not Italy, who took a shocking 2-1 lead in their home tie with Spain Saturday when Daniele Bracciali and Giorgio Galimberti went into hero-mode in the doubles, coming from a set down to defeat Feliciano Lopez and Rafael Nadal 9-7 in the fifth set.

"They had some luck to win the fourth set and keep the game alive," Galimberti said. "But let's not have it said that Spain weren't so strong, the fact is that we played very well. The tension was insane."

Italy looks to end a five-year absence from the World Group, with Corrado Barazzutti now looking brilliant after critics hammered the Italian captain for choosing dirt to host a Spanish team comprised of the Roland Garros champs Nadal and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

"It would be great to win, let's see what happens in the first match [Sunday]," Barazzutti said. "From now on it is Spain's problem to recover the tie -- we will just play our game."

Nadal knows he is favored in the first singles Sunday against Andreas Seppi, but the second singles will be a chess match even before the players take the court. Spain must choose between the flagging Ferrero, Lopez or David Ferrer, and Italy must decide between the flu-weakened Potito Starace or Bracciali.

Sweden leads India 1-0

Play was rained out Saturday, and Sunday could be a problem with the accumulated water on the grasscourts or -- more rain. Davis Cup rules allow play to be stretched to Tuesday if need be.

Switzerland defeats Britain 3-0

Switzerland's Yves Allegro and Roger Federer secured a spot for the home country in the 2006 Davis Cup World Group Saturday with a 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 win over Britain's Andy Murray and Greg Rusedski, shutting out the Brits 3-0 in the tie.

"I thought it was a good doubles," said Brit captain Jeremy Bates. "Obviously it was very tight and the third set was crucial. After that they got a bit of momentum going into the fourth set but I can't fault the effort or the performance from Greg and Andy. I don't think you can criticize the guys when they give that much."

What will be up for criticism is Bates' faulty tactic on Friday in sacrificing Alan Mackin in singles in place of Greg Rusedski, who had a legitimate chance of putting Britain on the board on day one.

HELP WANTED: Davis Cup captain for British national team. Must be capable of determining higher-ranked player for singles positions and not substituting players who can barely obtain direct entry to Challenger events. Apply to LTA.

U.S. leads Belgium 2-1

The American Bryan brothers keyed on weak link Kristof Vliegen in a 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-3 win over the Belgian and partner Olivier Rochus Saturday to put the U.S. up 2-1, setting up Andy Roddick for the clinching singles win on Sunday.

"That was our strategy," said Bob Bryan on hitting to Vliegen and keeping both Belgians on their toes at the net off the return of serve. "[We said] 'Let's go up the line early in the match.' We wanted to do that so that we could have them stay at home the rest of the match...Also, guys who don't play a lot together tend to break down at the net."

Olivier was without regular partner Xavier "X-Man" Malisse, who is feuding with the Belgian team's captain and was left off the squad. Roddick will lead-off Sunday against Olivier Rochus for the win, with Blake scheduled to follow against Rochus brother Christophe.

"I think Andy is going to be very motivated," said U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe. "He's expecting a tough match, but he's playing very well."