Monday, July 20, 2015

Wk.28- Davis Cup: Age Before...

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Australia were nearly undone by the Kazakhs. And despite the great sense of team unity, the young stars, the ones touted to be great, were not the ones who stood tall. No, Lleyton Hewitt once more showed us why he is the Australian number one. Who will Australia turn to when he retires?

Greeted by hugs and jubilation by the team as he sealed the improbable come back from 0-2 down in the tie, Hewitt showed everyone how it's done. He fist-pumped and shouted "come on!" as loud as he could on every important point and some of the less important ones, too. He led from the front and, along with Sam Groth, inspired Australia to a fantastic victory.

It was the first time Hewitt had ever played in a deciding rubber and also the first time in 76 years Australia had come back from 0-2.

Meanwhile, France were choking. They should have won that tie. Hands down, they should have won it. But the Davis Cup remains a bogey event for the French. Simon had Murray down and out. Murray was exhausted. He is this team. He is literally on his own. Yes, the doubles is solid but it isn't spectacular. Simon was up a set and had a lot of opportunities in that second set. He had a series of mini-breaks in the breaker. He was two points from two sets to love. He was two points from winning the tie for the French because there was no way Murray would have come back from two sets down. And now we have three unseeded nations in the semi-finals.

Had GB had to fly to Australia after the U.S. Open I think Murray would have opted out. But it is in Britain and that could make all the difference. Still, I think Australia are the favorites there.

Argentina actually have a good team. If they can continue to play on clay, they will be considered quite the force. Mayer, Delbonis and Berlocq are enough, especially on clay, to give Argentina a shot at beating anybody. Speaking of Berlocq, here is one his finest hours.

But his finest hour came as the world number 61. He won literally using dropshots. I mean it's playing dirty but that's the whole point of clay -- to play dirty.

Ah, the forgotten tie. Much like "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," the tie between Belgium and Canada will go mostly ignored. Still, the "Temple of Doom" is one of my favorite films in its own right. But I do not think it's the best film of the three. Similarly, "Batman Returns" is my favourite Batman film but it is sadly no longer the best. Surely that honour goes to "The Dark Knight." But once again I digress. Canada struggled to get sets. How about you watch this educational Canada video instead?

Well, that's the four ties but let's look in more depth.

*WEEK 28*
GBR def. FRA 3-1
AUS def. KAZ 3-2
ARG def. SRB 4-1
BEL def. CAN 5-0

S: Rajeev Ram def. Ivo Karlovic 7-6(5)/5-7/7-6(2)
D: Marray/Qureshi d. Monroe/Pavic

...This was a big upset. And they should have played Gasquet/Mahut in the doubles. Even if Gasquet was tired, so was Murray. Gasquet could, and perhaps should, have played the doubles. Still, this was an inspired performance from Great Britain. Simon started off and did what he had to. He dismissed Ward 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. And again there was not a lot of grass court tennis to be had, though the rallies were quicker. Tsonga had chances against Murray but the Scot won 7-5, 7-6[10], 6-2. Murray seems to have the Frenchman's number on the grass. He has beaten him at Wimbledon twice and here at Queens at least once. In 2010 Murray showed us his more unpleasant side.

At the eight-minute mark a rally ensues with Tsonga serving for the set. Murray hits a very flukey return and immediately does a fist pump. Disgusting. See this is why you'll never be as popular as Federer and Nadal. They have class. The Murrays then teamed up to beat Tsonga/Mahut in the doubles and won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6[5], 6-1. Again France had chances but could not convert. That theme was one that ran throughout the tie.
Murray then edged past Gilles Simon in four nervy sets. Of course, the 6-3, 6-0 finals set scores don't look close but it really hung in the balance for a while. The last rubber was left unplayed. Australia now go to Britain after the U.S. Open. So the question is what surface do they choose? Clay is out. Honestly, they might be tempted to go grass again. If I was them I might even go for a court like the one in Tokyo where Murray does so well.
...Last time out Hewitt lost but was saved, and this time the opposite occurred. Australia, after years in the wilderness, look to be back. And they look like they are going to be here to stay. The way to win the Davis Cup is to have two big singles players [Sampras and Agassi, Federer and Wawrinka] or to have a good singles player and a good doubles pairing. The Americans had this with Roddick and the Bryans recently, but for some reason it just didn't click for them. But the Aussies have taken the third route -- to have a handful of good players who mesh well. It's the rarest and the hardest to pull off. Kokkinakis was routinely dismissed by Kukushkin. Yep. He lost 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to the underrated Kazakh. The Kazakhs are known for their upsets in this competition. And it looked another was on as they took a 1-0 lead into the second rubber. But surely Kyrgios on grass would have too much for Nedovyesev. No. Aleksandr outlasted the future star 7-6[5], 6-7[2], 7-6[5], 6-4. This is a huge upset; Kyrgios is on form on grass. Kyrgios is learning lessons every day on the tour and this was another one. Everybody gets upset -- err, sorry.

Oh, of course I didn't mean you, Serena. Not you, Serena. Didn't see you there. Yeah uhh I'll move on swiftly. Sorry. So sorry. But Groth and Hewitt won the doubles rubber convincingly 6-4, 7-6[4], 6-2. And that seemed to right the ship. Groth won in four and Hewitt came through in straight sets. Hewitt gave the young stars a sermon from the mount. Hewitt is brash and bold. He makes everything a fight. And he always digs in. Kyrgios would have beaten Gasquet with a bit of Hewitt in him. Hewitt has been in the Davis for 17 years and he is still their main man. Years from now Todd and I will speak of the legend of Lleyton. And people will not believe us. Like him or not, enjoy his dying twilight -- for all too soon the night shall come. And then you'll miss him. We all will.
...Two duds in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup. This used to attract the best from each country and now it is seen as skippable. And that's sad. It should be treasured, it should be beloved. America has not changed its school buses. Wimbledon still insists on white attire. Are they mocked and made to feel redundant? No. For gosh sake the New York parade on Thanksgiving is seen as silly by some. I defend it but then tradition appeals to me. The Davis Cup should instead have all the ties held within a week, twice a year. Or some such measure. Then we get to test how strong the countries really are. In the Argentinian capital on indoor clay Mayer gave his team a positive side. He dismissed Krajinovic 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. And that just set the tone it seemed. It's hard to get up after that. But Troicki nearly did it. He won the first two sets of the second rubber 6-2, 6-2 but then fell in five long sets. And once you're 0-2 it's pretty much game over. Berlocq/Mayer dominated Troicki/Zimonjic from the first set of the third rubber and won 6-2, 6-4, 6-1. Zimonjic should do better. The two teams split the dead rubbers and Argentina moved on. Argentina now go to Belgium. If I were them I'd choose grass. But they will probably opt for a quick indoor hard court. Anything clay is foolish. Anything outdoors is risky. But in Europe playing outdoors in September is a gamble.
...Canada without Raonic and Pospisil is like Gotham without the Cat and the Joker. Not as dangerous and certainly not as interesting. The fact that Nestor played with Adil Shamasdin says it all, really. Filip Peliwo simply is not ready yet. Like cake he will be fantastic once he has done cooking. You took him out of the oven and checked him but he still needs another year and a half. At least. Canada took the first set on the clay but Darcis overcame Dancevic in four sets. Goffin was next and he dismissed Peliwo for the loss of just ten games. Bemelmans and Coppejeans needed four to get past Nestor and the unknown quantity but, really, there seemed to be little resistance from Canada.
Belgium even took the dead rubbers. This was never a contest. We have our four semi-finalists and had anyone predicted this then BACKSPIN would have laughed. It really shows what happens when the best don't commit. They need to commit.

...You thought that BACKSPIN had forgotten? Well, it was watching both the Davis Cup and the Newport Hall of Fame Championships. Ryan Harrison and Mark P won a doubles match. Rajeev Ram and young star Krajicek made the semi-finals of the doubles. But Ram did better in the singles. He won. He won his second ever singles title and his second at this event. He took it in 2009 and, at 86 in the world, edges ever closer to his highest ever singles ranking. If he can get past 78 he will crack it.

Check out the finals highlights here. Ram beat top seed Isner in a third set breaker, blew away Sugita, edged Mannarino 2-6, 7-6[8], 7-6[2] and then beat Smith of Australia in straight sets to make the final. He beat Karlovic 7-6[5], 5-7, 7-6[2]. It's impressive he beat Karlovic 7-2 in the last breaker. Ivo lost only one set on his way to the final. Tomic seeded third was awful. And then there was this and this and this. But this is a kind of nicer[r] note to end on.

To be honest BACKSPIN feels it has spent enough words on the behavior of Tomic off the courts. So the focus will be on the on-court stuff. And that Wimbledon was good for Tomic. He won two matches. But the last tournament was not. And that's just how it goes.

Casey has yet to commit to a tournament in the near foreseeable future, but once she does I shall let you know.

In Bastad, Goffin will beat Cuevas and Robredo will beat Bellucci. Goffin will win the title.

In Umag, Croatia Monfils will beat Thiem and then defeat Seppi. Seppi will beat Bautista-Agut in the semi-finals.

Defending champion Tomic will defeat Ward in Bogota, Colombia. Karlovic will beat Mannarino and then lose to Tomic in a repeat of last year's final.

Thanks all and don't forget to visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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