Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Davis Cup QF – Advance Australia Fair

Hey, all. Galileo here.

The leading candidate for BACKSPIN’s "Nation of the Year" on this side, with America and Russia in their usual battle on the other side, could well be Australia. Switzerland look impressive, but they don’t have the doubles covered. And where are they in the Davis Cup?

Yes, this decade has become the decade of resuscitation for fallen empires. Britain has had a singles, doubles and Davis Cup top ranking. They have won slams in both disciplines and the silver salad bowl. Honestly, however, the seeding for the Davis Cup matters little. The three seeds left are 6-8. The fourth spot is taken by an unseeded team, none other than Australia.

Australia have had a top five doubles talent this year and a slew of girls and boys rising up. Ash Barty, our own Dasha Gavrilova, Luke Saville and Nick Kyrgios are just a few of the names we have seen post decent results.

Sadly, while those nations flourish, again the Davis Cup withers. It is no longer a draw, no longer attractive. Why should Federer and Nadal play it? They have won it before. Djokovic, who has also previously won, turned up for it. It would have been good to see them clash. But, as usual, the full quota of players declined to attend.

Perhaps this Rod Laver Cup idea is going to work. Perhaps the Davis Cup can fix it by making it an Olympic style event, which takes place two years between each Olympics. Perhaps it could be more like a World Cup event, again played every four years.

The Fed Cup has also experienced problems, though not on this scale. The Fed Cup needs to change the doubles rubber. That’s it.

In related Davis Cup news, Brazil beat Eduador 5-0. Thomaz Bellucci along with Melo/Soares is a fearsome combination. Despite a spirited effort from Nicolas Jarry and Christian Garin, Chile’s rising stars, Colombia saw off their rivals 3-1. This BACKSPINNER wants to remind you that those two exist. They’re very good and are only getting better.

Meanwhile Kazakhstan spanked China 4-1, while India inflicted the same scoreline onto Uzbekistan.

Those four sides along with Hungary, the Netherlands, Belarus and Portugal all go through.

*WEEK 14*
Belgium(H) def. Italy 3-2
Australia(H) def. United States 3-2
France(H) def. Great Britain 4-1
Serbia(H) def. Spain 3-2

Well, let's look at our four quarterfinal ties...

...This was a torrid week of Davis Cup action. Look at Steve Darcis’ 6-7[3], 6-1, 6-1, 7-6[4] win over Paolo Lorenzi. The Italian went 16-30 on errors. His serve was broken six times. It was a very disappointing match that lasted nearly three and a half hours. On slow clay. Oh boy. Sometimes our sport is quite unwatchable. Do you remember that Nadal beatdown of David Ferrer in the Roland Garros final? That was a slam final and it was awful. In the next match David Goffin doubled the home side’s advantages. The tie, played in Charleroi near Brussels, was looking precarious for the Italians going into the doubles rubber. By some miracle of the gods they held on for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6[6] win. Bolelli and Seppi, former slam champions, defeated Bemelmans/De Loore. Goffin then put Lorenzi to the sword 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to give his side the win. The kid, Joris De Loore, won the dead rubber against Alessandro Giannessi. He is one to look out for in future. Belgium move on and will host Australia. It should be clay again, though there’s not a surface Kyrgios can’t play on.
...No ties needed their 5th rubber. Two didn’t need their fourth. A lacklustre week for the Davis Cup. The star of the show for Australia was freshly shaven and haircutted Jordan Thompson.

In the opening rubber there was drama a-plenty. For once, however, Lleyton Hewitt attacked the umpire with good reason -
she made a mistake. Thompson, playing a tie he was supposed to lose, used the home crowd to win the match 6-3, 3-6, 7-6[4], 6-4. Thompson played inspired baseline tennis against the tricky American, and when he won the breaker he won the match. The Americans never really recovered from the loss. Kyrgios out-served Isner in the next match, winning 7-5, 7-6[5], 7-6[5]. He won the aces duel by just 20-15. Down 0-3 in the first he recovered and went 7-2 in the next nine games to take it. Isner struggled to climb back into the match afterwards. Kyrgios is playing some of the best tennis on the planet right now, so it may not have mattered. For the doubles, Australia fielded the world number two Peers with Sam Groth, while the USA put out Jack Sock and Steve Johnson. Somehow the Americans won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. It took the Yanks two and a half hours and five breaks to get it done, but the tie was leveled. Fortunately for the Brisbane faithful, Nick Kyrgios wanted to finish it quickly. He beat late replacement Sam Querrey 7-6[4], 6-3, 6-4. He even ended it with an ace. The Aussies are the slight favourites against the Belgians, but nothing about this competition is predictable.
...No Richard Gasquet? No Gael Monfils? No Jo-W Tsonga? No Gilles Simon? No Herbert? No problem. France’s strength in depth is extraordinary. They stuck Lucas Pouille and Jeremy Chardy out there and won 3-0. in the opening rubber in Rouen, France, Pouille edged the first set 7-5 against Edmund. Despite serving for a two sets to none lead he found himself in a breaker. Down 5-2 he came back to win it 7-6[6]. The key point was at 5-2 on Edmund’s serve. Pouille hit the most ridiculous dropshot ever. But it worked, and beautifully. Watching it live was pretty incredible. He won the third set 6-3 and France had a 1-0 lead. Next Chardy spanked Dan Evans 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. The Frenchman broke six times and won just under 50 per cent of his return points. So it fell to the doubles on Saturday. Benneteau’s first doubles title came in Metz in 2003. Nicholas Mahut helped him to that title. In the final, they beat Llodra/Santoro. It was a topsy turvy affair but the home side took it 7-6[7], 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.

...The major problem with these ties is that there’s no angle, no storyline. What can you say about ties where one team only wins a set or two? Novak Djokovic beat Ramos-Vinolas in less than two hours 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. He faced just one break point. It resembled the first round match of a grand slam. Next Viktor Troicki beat Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Despite having three chances to do so the Spaniard failed to break, leaving Serbia unbroken through the first two rubbers. Out of 67 return points, Busta won just 17. 40 year-old playing captain Nenad Zimonjic, who has not missed a tie in a decade, paired up with Troicki. They were looking to put the thing to bed against Carreno-Busta/Mark Lopez. Despite spirited opposition they edged through in a 4-6, 7-6[4], 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 victory in well over three hours. They only dropped four points on their second serve. For the semi-finals they will travel to France. The French should play that one on grass. They would certainly win it then.


Well, after catching a break and nabbing the second seeded Konta’s spot in the draw you might have thought Dasha would do well. Except that she lost to close friend Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. Which is not so bad when you realize that the Russian went on to win the title.

When Agassi was going through a tough time he went and played in minor tournaments. In 1997 he entered and won an ITF tournament. He used those to play his way back up.

Read this beautiful article.

Watch out for defending champion Juan Monaco and the evergreen Tommy Haas in Houston this week. Jack Sock, the top seed, should be too good to look past, however. He will beat 5th seed Fernando Verdasco. Donald Young will go all the way to the semi-final but lose to Thomaz Belucci. Tired from the Davis Cup, the Brazilian will go out to Sock in the final.

Dimitrov opens with Tommy Robredo in Morocco. He will go all the way to the final, seeing off Philipp Kohlschreiber, too. Paolo Lorenzi will win a couple but lose to Ramos-Vinolas, seeded second, in the semi-final. Ramos-Vinolas is going to win it all.

P.S.- Congratulations to Pavlyuchenkova on winning her fourth title at Monterrey. It’s an extremely impressive record.

And, finally...

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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