Photo: Sergio LlameraJuan Martin del Potro (ARG)
The opening day's play of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinals provided a fascinating set of results with three of the ties still very much in the balance.
Defending champions Spain are in control of their tie against Austria as they look to make it 23 straight victories on home soil. Nicolas Almagro played what he described as one of the best matches of his career as he saw of the challenge of Austrian No. 1 Jurgen Melzer in straight sets 62 62 64.
David Ferrer, inspired by the tennis he had witnessed in the first rubber, completed his own demolition job of Andreas Haider-Maurer. The world No. 5 showed the gulf in class between the two players as he dismissed his opponent 61 63 61. The Austrian No. 2 has played very little since the last round of Davis Cup in February and his rustiness showed as he failed to ever to gain a foothold in the match.
The tie between France and USA at the Monte Carlo Country Club is more delicately balanced going into tomorrow's doubles. Jo-Wilfired Tsonga was perhaps not at his very best but still had too much for Ryan Harrison, who was playing in his first ever live rubber. The 19-year-old showed some resolve to win the third set but was beaten 75 62 26 62.
Gilles Simon was then given the task of trying to extend the home side's advantage but had the stiff task of taking on one of the most in-form players, John Isner. The American No. 1 had demonstrated his ability to play on clay when defeating Roger Federer in the first round and ground out another impressive victory as he won out 63 62 75 to leave the tie all-square. The Bryan brothers will face Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra in the doubles on Saturday and the winners will hold a key edge going into the reverse singles.
Another finely poised tie is that between Czech Republic and Serbia. Tomas Berdych produced a clinical performance against Viktor Troicki in the opening rubber taking less than two hours to score a 62 61 62 victory.
There was plenty of drama in the second rubber as Janko Tipsarevic showed his fighting spirit as he outlasted Radek Stepanek in a five-hour battle. The Czech No. 2 had stormed back from a break down in the opening set to take the lead before relinquishing control and handing the following two to his opponent.
A break from the Czech veteran at the very end of the fourth set set up a nailbiting final set in which Stepanek fought back again from a break down but could not finish off his opponent despite earning three match points. Tipsaervic earned the decisive break with the score at 7-7 and comfortably served out the match for a 57 64 64 46 97 victory.
It was a similarly hard fought encounter in Buenos Aires where Marin Cilic edged David Nalbandian in a five-set classic in the day's opening rubber. The pair were on court for over five hours before the Croatian No. 1 finally drew first blood for the visitors.
Juan Martin del Potro restored order for the hosts, however, despite feeling unwell in the lead-up to his match against the big serving Ivo Karlovic. To the delight of the home fans at Parque Roca, the Argentine No. 1 overcame his vomiting bug to take to the court and defeat Karlovic in straight sets and leave the tie perfectly poised at 1-1 overnight.
Click the links below a full report from each of the World Group quarterfinals.
- Spain 2-0 Austria
- France 1-1 USA
- Czech Republic 1-1 Serbia
- Argentina 1-1 Croatia