Fognini a Marathon Man; Swiss, Serbia Blanked; Davis Cup 1st Round Results
by Staff | February 4th, 2018, 12:03 pm

Spain upset No. 3-seeded Britain who was without Andy Murray, Germany ousted No. 6 Australia, Kazakhstan upset No. 5 Switzerland who was without Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka, and the U.S. beat No. 7 Serbia who was missing the services of former No. 1 Novak Djokovic in upsets during round one of the Davis Cup World Group over the weekend.
Here is a look at the first round as it happened Friday-Sunday:

Kazakhstan d. Switzerland 3-0

Doesn’t Switzerland have GOAT Roger Federer and Slam winner Stan Wawrinka? No, they don’t.

Apparently Federer and Wawrinka are done with Davis Cup since winning in 2014, allowing Kazakhstan’s mix of tour and Challenger-level players to beat Switzerland’s mix of tour and Challenger players. In singles Kazakh Dmitry Popko beat Henri Laaksonen in four sets in the opener, followed by Mikhail Kukushkin defeating Adrian Bodmer in four sets. The unheralded Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov finished it off for Kazakhstan in the Saturday doubles, topping Marc-Andrea Huesler and Luca Margaroli in five sets.

USA d. Serbia 3-0

Due to injuries (Novak Djokovic) and lack of interest (Viktor Troicki, Filip Krajinovic), Serbia rolls over on red clay at home to the U.S.

Sam Querrey recovered from a set down to defeat No. 88-ranked Laslo Djere in the singles opener, followed by John Isner outlasting Dusan Lajovic 7-6 in the fifth. Americans Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson clinched it in the Saturday doubles, defeating Nikola Milojevic and Miljan Zekic from a set down in four.

“The talk that we had before the match was, ‘Expect these guys to play great,'” U.S. captain Jim Courier said afterwards. “And they did, in the first set, especially. [Harrison/Johnson] did a terrific job of staying focused and making some changes, and trusting each other and getting to the finish line.”

Italy d. Japan 3-1

Kei Nishikori recovering from wrist surgery meant Japan had little chance against the veteran Italians in Morioka, Japan, despite some heroics.

Japan’s Yuichi Sugita upset Andreas Seppi on day one 7-6 in the fifth to make it 1-1 after the first day. Japan almost held a 2-0 lead but Italy’s Fabio Fognini was too much for Taro Daniel 6-2 in the fifth set. Fognini then went about some heavy lifting, winning the Saturday doubles with Simone Bolelli in four, then on Sunday clinching it in the first singles, defeating Sugita 7-5 in the fifth set.

“I think this was the toughest Davis Cup tie I’ve played,” Fognini said afterwards. “I was really tired coming from Melbourne, hot conditions, to here where it’s cold and snowing. I played with my heart. Now it’s time for recovery and then we will think about the quarterfinal when we are close to it.”

Spain d. Britain 3-1

An injured Andy Murray meant no chance for Britain on red clay in Spain, even with some breakout play by Brit Cameron Norrie.

After Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas defeated Liam Broady in straight sets in the opener, the Challenger-level player Norrie tied it at 1-1 after upsetting Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. From there the Spaniards put on their hard hats as Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez won the doubles over Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray, then on Sunday Ramos-Vinolas tamed Norrie in four sets.

“I’m really happy,” Ramos-Vinolas said. “It was a really good atmosphere today. It was a long match, a great match, we both fought a lot. To finish like this is amazing, when you’re two breaks up and serving for the match. This is Davis Cup, it’s not easy to play like a normal tournament, but I think I did a great job.”

Germany d. Australia 3-1

In a tie headlined by young guns Nick Kyrgios for the home Aussies and Alexander Zverev for the Germans, Germany came into Brisbane and won on their singles prowess.

Kyrgios kept the Aussies in it on day one, beating Jan-Lennard Struff in straights after Zverev started the tie with a five-set win over 2018 Aussie breakout star Alex de Minaur. But the Germans rolled from there, on Saturday winning the doubles in five sets when Struff and Tim Puetz defeated Matthew Ebden and John Peers. Germany finished it in the first match on Sunday when Zverev beat Kyrgios 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2.

“(Zverev) played great today, I thought he served well, but my biggest weapon was not really there and that affects the rest of my game,” said Kyrgios who was dealing with an arm injury. “It’s tough to go out there and not be able to put in your best performance. It just sucks. I had my eye on this Davis Cup tie throughout the whole Aussie summer, even when I was here in Brisbane I was waiting to come here and play and it just leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth after the Aussie summer I had.”

Croatia d. Canada 3-1

The Croats defended their home turf over the weekend behind the singles play of Borna Coric and the doubles-only play of Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic.

Day one was tied 1-1 after Coric beat Vasek Pospisil in four and Canada’s Denis Shapovalov defeated Viktor Galovic in straight sets. In the Saturday doubles Cilic teamed with Ivan Dodig to defeat Pospisil and Daniel Nestor from two sets down 6-2 in the fifth. On Sunday Coric clinched it with an impressive straight-set victory against Shapovalov 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Belgium d. Hungary 3-1

The defending finalists Belgium stormed to a 2-0 lead after sweeping the day one singles when Ruben Bemelmans beat Marton Fucsovics in four, and Belgian No. 1 David Goffin topped Attila Balazs in straights.

Hungary showed some life in the doubles when Balazs-Fucsovics stunned Belemans-Joris de Loore 7-5 in the fifth, but Goffin restored order on Sunday, beating Fucsovics in four sets to clinch for the home team.

France d. Netherlands 3-1

France narrowly avoided a fifth and deciding match, closing out the Dutch in the first singles match on Sunday when Adrian Mannarino outlasted Robin Haase 7-5 in the fifth set.

The tie was 1-1 after day one when Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker straight-setted Mannarino, then Richard Gasquet beat Haase in four. France went up 2-1 after the doubles when Pierre Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut edged Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(2).

The April 6-8 World Group quarterfinals will see France at Italy, Germany at Spain, Kazakhstan at Croatia, and Belgium at USA.

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15 Comments for Fognini a Marathon Man; Swiss, Serbia Blanked; Davis Cup 1st Round Results

skeezer Says:

Maybe DC should be an amateur sport. The top pros are spotty at best playing DC. How about you cannot play DC if your in the top 20? Or if you are a playing on the ATP tour your disqualified to play all together? That way there are no expectations, other amateur stars and future pros can come to light, and the top pros are not judged for not playing.

j-kath Says:

Skeezer: The problem is that lots of fans who love to support their country would not be prepared to pay (or could not afford to pay) to travel across the world to see Away-Matches and few would make the financial sacrifice if the players were amateurs and “pros” still to prove themselves. The audiences are always pretty mixed – age wise including disabled of all ages…plus the majority are not the Wimbledon set with loads of spare money.

Andy Murray and others financially support about 30 Stirling University students – they get free flights and transport etc. but you can’t support everyone.

rognadfan Says:

That is a great a great post. How about, rebranding it to make a little more extravagant like the football world cup? “ITF world cup Tennis” already sounds amazing. Do it Every 2 year and for 2-3 weeks, right after the end of the season. Just like how the grandslams are played but in DC format.

That would draw crowds and the sport would also get even more exposure around the world
I think pros would want to play such an event because it would definitely draw more attention and more money too. In addition, given an opportunity to play an event comparable to the likes of FIFA FIVA or FIBA WC, pros would definitely consider that.

Otherwise, I agree with skeezer that it’s just not interesting anymore (doubt it’s been super interesting ever).

Humble Rafa Says:

Maybe DC should be an amateur sport.

From a guy who lists DC as an accomplishment on somebody’s resume. How many personalities do you have? One personality per cat you own?

SG1 Says:

Completely agree with rognadfan…and you have to make it a big money event. The lack of interest stems from money and the only way to solve it is with money. All the players from all the countries playing at the same time in one cohesive two week event that offers big money and ATP points. And pick big market venues where tennis is popular. Spoil the hell out of the players (…all the players) and their families.

DC has a ton of potential. So many intriguing manages that people never see. As with any problem, there has to be will to fix it. It has to evolve or it will die.

SG1 Says:

“…intriguing matches” sorry

SG1 Says:

Time is running out on fixing this. You need guys like Federer and Nadal to give this concept merit and market it.

rognadfan Says:

‘Time is running out on fixing this. You need guys like Federer and Nadal to give this concept merit and market it.’

That’s exactly what my thought was. It seems that after the likes of Roger, Rafa, Novak (and Murray and even Stan) retire, there’s going to be a dip in the ‘staunch fan base’ these guys have brought into the game (personally, for me that’s what’s going to happen, though I’ll always watch the game. Murray was the guy I picked up, when he was the rising star, as the successor to Fed; but the old man doesn’t retire, and Murray has been a classic case of ‘hope and disappointment’ for me. :)).

If anyone can give merit to such a new (or extensively revamped) concept, it is these 3-5 guys (just look at the laver cup).

Joe Says:

Kei wasn’t injured, he was off winning a challenger in Dallas at the same time his country was losing.

I don’t understand why he made that choice. I wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

j-kath Says:

Rognafan: Don’t know if you’ve been to a DC contest – but they are really hugely exciting…provided there is one or two top “stars” playing…plus those who are good players seem to find something extra when playing at DC.

Agree it should be better staged i.e. once a year or every 2nd year…as it is , it is too frequent and at a time when the top players are already worn out.

SG1: It used to have ranking points but these were recently removed!!!!!

rognadfan Says:

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually go to one, yet. But I can certainly imagine they are hugely exciting, as you point. And I would further add that it normally is so even without a top player (at least to the tennis communities of the two countries that are playing). I think its mainly because of the fact that playing for country brings out a sense of pride and satisfaction to players.
That is why the events like the FIFA WC is still so exciting and bring large revenues, although the quality of game itself in the WC is hardly on par with the the games of, say the champions league, or even the 5 big European domestic leagues.

I’d argue that a similar ‘world tennis event’ that brings all these atheles to one venue for about 3 weeks would be comparably successful, if it were to actually happen. It’d certainly take a few iteration to get there but hard to imagine otherwise.

Margot Says:

rognadfan: I’ve been to two DC events, one Andy was playing at, one he wasn’t. I wouldn’t go to another unless Andy was playing. I’m not nationalistic about tennis, I love the way Andy plays and the fact he’s British is a bonus, but other players I like to watch aren’t. But rugby? Now you’re talking!

the_mind_reels Says:

I went to a USA vs. Switzerland Davis Cup match back in 2009. The tie was hosted in Birmingham, Alabama, which I found surprising as a location for an international tennis event (Birmingham isn’t obviously an epicenter of either international tourism or of tennis).

Given the planning required (flights, hotels), we booked our tickets well in advance of knowing which players would actually commit to the tie. Federer had said earlier in the year that he’d play, but scheduling didn’t pan out for him or for his fans who made the trek. We still ended up seeing Roddick, Blake, Wawrinka, and the Bryan brothers all duke it out, which wasn’t for nothing.

As others have pointed out, though, commitments for these events are really lacking among many top players. In some ways, my experience wasn’t that far off from a regular tour tournament where your favorite pulls out at the 11th hour, but I agree scheduling of DC plays a big factor in why it can’t consistently draw the best on tour.

Willow Says:

The lesser players are making up the numbers, and are unlikely to win anything major like a Masters 1000, or a GS, so DC is a fantastic opotunity to achieve something significant in their careers, even if thats a team thing, the elite players Roger, Rafa, Novak, Andy, Stan its pretty much a case of been there done that, another box ticked in their careers, so probably not that interested anymore, although im just second guessing ….

chico Says:

Joe: Does not need to be anything in the scenes. Playing best of five DC puts you in a potential situation where you are fighting multiple hours with a recovering injury unable to back off. A max three sets against lesser opponents on the same surface as the coming US events makes perfect sense. Furthermore if problems occur in a challenger then everybody understands an rtd, and in the heat of the moment it is easier to make a wise decision that can save the season.

Personally don’t think there is an acute need for pomping up DC. Playing for your country will always have its own pull on the players, and will draw people to the courts for whom just tennis is not yet enough to go get the ticket. Occasional bigger stars will get to go to places where they would otherwise never be seen.

And logistically it can be very light, one court and we are ready for history.

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