Photo: Corinne DubreuilBob and Mike Bryan (USA)
At this stage of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinals it's no surprise that all of the ties are still wide open going into Sunday's reverse singles.
Spain had looked favourites to complete victory over Austria on Saturday after Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer won both the singles rubbers on Friday. Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez took the opening set against experienced doubles partners Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya but a rain delay in the early stages of the second set changed the course of the match.
The Austrian pair broke almost immediately after the match resumed and held their nerve to level the match before repeating a 6-4 scoreline in the third to hand them the advantage. A tightly contested fourth set went with serve all the way to a tiebreak that was equally nervous and thrilling. Both sides had chances but it was Marach and Peya, on their fifth match point, who eventually sealed a 36 64 64 76(12) victory and keep their hopes alive.
David Ferrer will face Jurgen Melzer in the first reverse singles on Sunday attempting to acheive what his teammates couldn't and send Spain into the semifinals. If Melzer can do the impossible and upset the world No. 5, then the scheduled fifth rubber is Almagro against Andreas Haider-Maurer.
USA put themselves in the box seat to face the winners of the Spanish tie as the Bryan brothers saw off Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra in straight sets at the Monte Carlo Country Club, a result that hands the visitors a crucial 2-1 lead. The American pairing showed why they are considered one of the greatest doubles teams of all-time with a 64 64 76(4) triumph.
John Isner will now take to the court against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Sunday knowing that his side are just one point from a memorable victory and will be looking to take the pressure off youngster Ryan Harisson who would have to score his first ever live rubber point against Gilles Simon to secure the win if Isner were to fail first up.
Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil called up his favoured pairing of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek in Prague and he proved to be justified in his decision as they put the home side ahead with a 64 62 76(4) success. The pair were not troubled by Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic for much of the match and just when a turnaround looked to be on the cards when they trailed 0-3 in the third set they upped their game before taking a tight tiebreak with a single mini-break.
The Czech No.1 has been the star of the show so far this weekend and will have the chance to polish off the Serbians when he faces Janko Tipsarevic, who was rested on Saturday after an epic five-set victory over Stepanek on the opening day had levelled the tie at 1-1. Should the tie go the distance it will likely fall onto the shoulders of Viktor Troicki and Stepanek to determine who advances.
In Buenos Aires, David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank combined to defeat Croatian duo Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic 36 76(6) 63 67(6) 86 in a marathon match lasting one minute short of five hours. The rubber ebbed and flowed with both pairs having the opportunity to prevail, but it was the Argentines who eventually held their nerve to give the hosts a crucial 2-1 lead.
Attentions now turn to Sunday and the reverse singles rubbers. First up is Juan Martin del Potro versus Cilic in the battle of the No. 1s, and if the Croat can produce an upset against the former US Open champion then a deciding fifth rubber will be required.
Nalbandian is nominated to face Karlovic should the tie go the distance, but it wouldn’t be a surprise – given Nalbandian’s exploits over the last two days – if Jaite elects to bring the in-form Juan Monaco into the line-up. Only time will tell, although the Argentine captain will no doubt be hoping a fifth rubber won’t be needed.
Click the links below a full report from each of the World Group quarterfinals.
- Spain 2-1 Austria
- France 1-2 USA
- Czech Republic 2-1 Serbia
- Argentina 2-1 Croatia