Photo: ImagellanViktor Troicki (SRB)
The opening day of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas action in 2013 provided a number of great matches as well as some shock results.
Croatia were given a solid start by their No.1 player this weekend, Marin Cilic, who was made to work hard to overcome Paolo Lorenzi. The Italian was a late replacement for Fabio Fognini who has been hit with a flu virus but it was not apparent from his play. Cilic had to win both the last two sets to take the first point for the visitors 61 67(6) 46 63 62.
Italy's Andreas Seppi made sure this tie would be live on the third day after he continued his fine start to 2013 with a 62 67(2) 64 64 victory over Croatian No. 2 Ivan Dodig.
Novak Djokovic lived up to expectations in Charleroi in a demolition of home crowd favourite Olivier Rochus to put his side in a strong position at the end of the first day. The Belgian managed to whip up the crowd with some great shots but never really challenged the World No.1 in a 63 62 62 scoreline.
Belgium had started the tie strongly under youngster David Goffin as he roared to a two-set lead against Viktor Troicki and seemed set to give them an unlikely lead but was unable to finish the job allowing the Serb a route back into the match giving up the third set in a tiebreak. There was a slightly inevitable feel from that point on as Troicki came back to complete a 16 36 76(5) 64 64.
Arnault Clement enjoyed a perfect start to his reign as French Davis Cup captain as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet combined to put the home side within a point of victory against Israel in Rouen.
Tsonga was pushed all the way by a plucky Amir Weintraub in the opening rubber as the Israeli took the fight to his opponent, raising his game as he does on so many occassions in Davis Cup, only to find himself two sets behind. The world No.8 was broken twice in the third to surrender a set before rallying to take a 63 63 46 75 victory. Gasquet's progress was rather smoother as he defeated Dudi Sela in a comfortable 63 62 62 procession, finishing with an ace after just 1 hour 50 minutes.
Philipp Kohlschreiber was the unfortunate victim of a hamstring injury that left him unable to finish the opening rubber between Germany and Argentina at Parque Roca. With Carlos Berlocq serving at 36 75 26 64 4-5, Kohlschreiber called time on the match clearly upset at not being able to continue.
Juan Monaco then proceeded to hammer home the advantage for the hosts and it looks as though another quarterfinal appearance beckons for Argentina after they took a 2-0 lead thanks to their No. 1 defeating Florian Mayer 67(4) 63 63 64.
Switzerland and Czech Republic are tied in a tight battle in Geneva with both No. 1s scoring points on the opening day as expected. Stanislas Wawrinka faced Lucas Rosol in the curtain-raiser and continued his impressive start to the year allowing his Czech opponent just a limited number of flashes of the dangerous aggressive play he is capable of in a 64 63 64 success.
Tomas Berdych was handed the task of levelling the tie against little-known Henri Laaksonen, who is making his first on-court appearance for Switzerland in Davis Cup this weekend having previously played under the Finnish flag in 2009.
Berdych looked to be cruising two sets to the good before Laaksonen, revelling in the atmosphere inside Palexpo, shocked him to take the third set in a tiebreak. The world No. 6 stepped it up a gear in response and dismissed his opponent 63 62 67(5) 61.
Kazakhstan have put themselves on the brink of an upset against Austria thanks largely to the exploits of Evgeny Korolev who raced past Jurgen Melzer, a player ranked 181 places above him, in straight sets 76(4) 63 62.
That result added to Andrey Golubev's earlier victory to give the hosts a 2-0 lead in Astana. Golubev continued his record of never having lost a rubber on home soil as he took on Andreas Haider-Maurer and was able to step up his game at the critical moments to put Kazakhstan ahead in a 76(2) 63 76(5).
And in Florida it is the hosts who have taken one step closer to victory with wins for Sam Querrey and John Isner over Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci and Thiago Alves respectively.
Click the links below for a full report from each of the World Group first round ties.
- Canada 2-0 Spain
- Italy 1-1 Croatia
- Belgium 0-2 Serbia
- USA 2-0 Brazil
- France 2-0 Israel
- Argentina 2-0 Germany
- Kazakhstan 2-0 Austria
- Switzerland 1-1 Czech Republic