Was it Kei Nishikori, or was it
the Tennis Gods?
Consider this: Canada's three top
singles players all went down in the Davis Cup tie with
Japan. Milos Raonic wasn't even with the team due to an
ankle injury. Vasek Pospisil had to pull out of the
doubles with a back injury. That left singles duty to
Frank Dancevic -- and he hurt himself and had to retire
trailing Kei Nishikori 6-2 1-0. Technically, Nishikori
won all three points needed to secure a quarterfinal
spot for Japan -- but he had a lot of help....
In the final match, Go Soeda beat
Peter Polansky 6-1 6-4. That made the official score 4-1
for Japan. But the unofficial score might be listed as
Injuries 1, Canada 0.
Japan reaches the quarterfinal
for the first time. Too bad for them that they have to
face the defending champions next.
The official score in the contest
between Germany and Spain was 4-1. But Spain didn't
actually win anything. Feliciano Lopez was supposed to
face Philipp Kohlschreiber in the fourth match, but
Kohlschreiber had played singles and doubles and is
supposed to play again next week; he bailed out (which
caused the fans to boo the team; in the absence of a
meaningful match, they at least wanted two dead
matches). That left it to Daniel Brands to play out the
dead rubber; he beat Roberto Bautista Agut (who admitted
to "zero motivation") 7-6 6-4.
The tie between Kazakhstan and
Belgium at least featured some drama, even though it
seems likely that winner Kazakhstan will get stomped in
the next round. The Kazakhs started Sunday with a 2-1
lead, but David Goffin, who had lost 12-10 in the fifth
on Friday, made up for it by winning another marathon on
Sunday, 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0 over Mikhail Kukushkin.
Unfortunately for Belgium, Andrei Golubev (who of course
had won that monster match over Goffin) again showed
what he can do on the rare days that he is on. He
crushed Ruben Bemelmans 6-2 6-3 6-1, and the Kazakhs
were in the quarterfinal.
The Japanese perhaps weren't the
only ones helped by injury. Robin Haase of the
Netherlands, who was supposed to face Tomas Berdych,
didn't come out; Thiemo de Bakker took his place. And
got stomped 6-1 6-4 6-3. That put the Czechs in the
quarterfinal, and let Radek Stepanek have a day off;
Lukas Rosol took on Igor Sijsling -- but, having no
motivation, lost 6-3 6-3. So the official final score
France had already beaten
Australia, so Sunday's action was a formality -- and the
first match, at least, wasn't even much of that.
Substitute Julien Benneteau beat substitute Thanasi
Kokkinakis 6-4 6-1. The second match was a little more
interesting, but substitute Gael Monfils completed the
5-0 sweep (the only sweep of this round) by beating Nick
Kyrgios 7-6 6-4.
Once Serbia was out of it, they
really got into it. Of course, it helped that they
played their first-string players (at least, the first
string of those they had), while Switzerland played
their bench. Dushan Lajovic started Sunday's action by
beating Michael Lammer 6-3 3-6 6-4. Then Filip
Krajinovic beat Marco Chiudinelli 6-4 6-4. That made the
final score 3-2 for the Swiss -- but it was a lot less
close than that scoreline.
Fabio Fognini had had a very long
doubles match the day before, but he clearly wanted to
win for Italy. It took him another three and a half
hours on the court, but he beat Carlos Berlocq 7-6 4-6
6-1 6-4 to clinch for the Italians. They didn't bother
with the fifth match. Fognini earned all three of
Italy's points; Argentina is out of the World Group for
the first time in thirteen years. One suspects there
will be a lot of charges flying between Juan Martin del
Potro and the rest of the Argentine tennis establishment
The last tie of the week was of
course that between the Americans and the British, which
opened with Sam Querrey needing to beat Andy Murray to
keep the Americans alive. He did a surprisingly good job
-- if he had done this well in the first singles, the
Americans might have been in better shape. It took
Murray two sets to really get into the match -- but once
he did, it went fast. Murray won 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-3, and
Britain was in the quarterfinal. They didn't bother
playing out the dead rubber.
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