Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Wk.9- Dancing for the Davis Cup

Hey, all. Galileo here.

Great Britain def. Japan 3-1
Serbia def. Kazakhstan 3-2
Italy def. Switzerland 5-0
Argentina def. Poland 3-2
France def. Canada 5-0
Czech Rebublic def. Germany 3-2
United States def. Australia 3-1
Croatia def. Belgium 3-2

What happened this past week? Well, let’s find out...

...Japan were always a little outgunned, and Nishikori could not quite carry his country through all by his lonesome. Think of how he could do with a solid second at his side. Japan and Britain are of the same ilk - a shining star twinkling all by itself. Britain at least has passable doubles players. Japan lacks even that. But Murray was shabby in the opening rubber. He dismissed Daniel 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 but still hit 26 errors. Great Britain have been playing a lot of ties at home because they have been out of the World Group so long. In Birmingham in the first match, Murray held serve. Nishikori was next, and he won through in a scrappy encounter 6-3, 7-5, 7-6[3] but that three-setter featured 11 breaks. Every third game a service was surrendered. And they also hit near to 100 errors combined. But the tie was level at 1-1. Nishioka/Uchiyama did not trouble the Murrays. They were blown away 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and yet managed to last for two hours. Quite remarkable, really. Murray put the tie to bed despite blowing a two sets to none lead. In five hours, and 200 unforced errors later, Muzza edged through 7-5, 7-6[8], 3-6, 4-6, 6-3. Seven breaks apiece and a lot of grit in that match, but nothing was left on the court. Neither team impressed but the defending champs have at least avoided falling at the first hurdle.

MVP: Andy Murray, GBR

...Serbia were pushed to the limit by the upstarts of the Davis Cup. The Kazakhs are always dangerous, always capable of making upsets happen. They have a way of making runs and testing teams they have no right to. They nearly beat Australia in Darwin and gave the Swiss a scare, too. And now it was Serbia’s turn. When Djokovic dismissed Nedovyesov 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, breaking six times and cruising throughout, Serbia were off to a great start. But one should never underestimate Kukushkin at the Davis Cup. He played a solid match from the baseline and beat Troicki 7-5, 6-2, 6-4. Kukushkin broke seven times to three in this scrappy encounter. There do seem to be a lot of gritty matches in the Davis Cup right now. Maybe that’s because playing best of five sets is such a rare thing these days. Djokovic/Zimonjic are the ace in the hole. Nenad has been a number one before in doubles. They were a lock to win. But the Golubev/Nedovyesov dismissed them in straight sets. The Serbs hit eight doubles and lost serve three times. Nole was pushed to the limit next against Kukushkin, but won eventually 6-7[6], 7-6[3], 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. There are signs just beginning to pop-up that hint Djokovic might be a bit off-form. Luckily Troicki was on hand to sweep the reverse 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 and he sees Serbia through.

MVP: Mikhail Kukushkin, KAZ
...The Swiss suffer the problem the Davis does - lack of motivated star power. The competition just can’t draw out the big names like it could before. The Swiss resistance was broken in the first rubber in Italy. Lorenzi beat Chiudinelli 7-6[14], 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 7-5. The Italian’s 17 aces helped him to recover from losing his lead. After they lost that one in five, the Swiss faded. Seppi did enough to edge Laaksonen 7-5, 7-6[4], 3-6, 6-3. The Swiss man hit 33 winners, almost double that of Seppi’s total, but it was not enough. Seppi then combined with Bolelli to clinch it emphatically with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win in the doubles over Chiudinelli/Laaksonen. Without either of their big guns, the Swiss are an easy opponent to overcome. The Italians won the two dead rubbers and move on to face Argentina at home.

MVP:Andreas Seppi, ITA

...Without Janowicz, Poland never had a chance. They fielded two singles players with unpronounceable names who both lost in straight sets to Pella and Mayer. Kubot/Matkowski won their doubles rubber and it was a fitting farewell for one of Poland’s most faithful players. A long-time doubles star, Matkowski often played with Fyrstenburg. Marin went 16-27 in finals, made the WTF six times and even made several deep slam runs. He played with Zimonjic last year and they had a successful renaissance. He also made a final every year since 2003. His 4-2 in singles and 26-8 mark in doubles in the Davis are a testament to his devotion. Przysiezny lost to Mayer in four sets and that handed the rubber to Argentina, but the Poles did win the dead rubber, though it was scant consolation.

MVP: Leonardo Mayer, ARG

...There’s always one tie which ends in a whitewash. France have just too much strength. Two in the top ten and four in the top twenty. One of the best doubles teams in the world and a host of wise veterans on hand to guide them through. Throw in Captain Yannick Noah and you have a team that are favourites to win the whole gosh-darn thing. In Guadeloupe, Monfils dismissed Dancevic 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 and France were on their way. Pospisil barely challenged Simon as he went down 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. Gasquet/Tsonga would be a formidable Olympic doubles team and the two frequently win important doubles rubbers for the French. Strange that the two top ten singles players they have they use in doubles. In later rounds, look for them to use Herbert and Mahut. Anyway, Gonga won their rubber in straight sets, and then swept the dead rubbers, too. I leave you with these images.
MVP: Captain Yannick Noah. FRA

...Germany could so easily have won this tie. It was a tie filled with epics. Kohl won the first rubber against Rosol 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. The Germans had edged to a 1-0 lead in Hannover. Zverev came within a whisker of giving them a 2-0 lead, but eventually Berdych came back to level it. The Czech star won 7-6[7], 1-6, 4-6, 7-6[5], 6-4. Zverev has not played a better five set match in his short career but Berdman was still equal to the challenge. But he had to go out and play the doubles with Stepanek next. They beat Kohl and Petz 7-6[7], 7-5, 6-4. Sadly Berdie had to retire down two sets against Kohl in the next match. Zverev had nothing left to give, however, and Rosol easily manhandled him in a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory. Germany are left licking their wounds, but they have a bright Davis future.

MVP: Philipp Kohlschreiber, GER

...Tomic again opened his mouth rather foolishly. And Kyrgios once more was mysteriously absent from Davis Cup duties. Had Nick been playing, perhaps Australia would have won. It has been over 30 years since Australia lost to the U.S. on home soil. But this BACKSPINNER is sick of talking about the misbehaviours of Australian tennis stars. Playing at Kooyong, the Aussies were favoured to win until Kyrgios dropped out. Isner beat Groth 7-6[2], 6-2, 6-2 and it set the tone of the whole tie. Sure, Tomic beat Sock in four but even that effort seemed subdued. When the Bryans won, even if it was in five, the tie was always going America’s way. Isner hit a massive 50 aces as he saw off Tomic in four. The Yanks were triumphant but the litmus test will be against the French who have incredible depth…

MVP: John Isner, USA

...Yes, Belgium lost 3-2. Yes they were fortunate to make the finals last year. But Cilic could really take example from Goffin. Goffin won both his rubbers and even played the doubles, though he lost that badly. Coric carried his team through where Cilic played poorly again. Goffin gave everything and, as usual, tried to carry his team through. Unfortunately he needs a stronger supporting cast and he just doesn’t have it. With the Rochus brothers all but gone and Malisse retired, Belgium lacks the depth it once had. But Goffin and his gang will be back. This tie was a foregone conclusion but Goffin will always give his country a chance along with his best.

MVP: David Goffin, BEL


Based on the ties we have just seen and the timing of the next round, Serbia will defeat Great Britain, Argentina will go to Italy and win, France will beat the Czechs in their backyard with their superior depth, and I would think America at home will be able to handle Croatia. Of course, the packed summer schedule is the spanner in the works and it is the reason why France will win, for example. Their sheer depth will be of aid, likewise with America’s depth. Querrey and Johnson are good enough. So is Taylor.

Well, I shall see you for the draws.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN for my Indian Wells picks on Todd's tournament preview post.

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