All four top seeds made their way to the men’s World Group semifinals on Thursday’s fourth day of the 2014 BNP Paribas World Team Cup, with second seed Netherlands and third seed Japan involved in the two closest men’s contests.
Tom Egberink made a good start for the host nation as Netherlands began its final Pool B round-robin tie against 2013 World Group II winner Australia, the Dutchman defeating Ben Weekes 76(3) 62 in front of an appreciative local crowd.
Adam Kellerman then took a set off world No. 5 Scheffers for the first time and the Australian had a match point at 5-3 up in the second set, but he was unable to take the opportunity and Scheffers took the last four games for a 36 64 75 victory as Kellerman ended on a double fault.
“Adam played really well and almost every return was a winner, so I was really happy to come back from match point down,” said Scheffers, who went on to partner Egberink to beat Kellerman and Weekes in the doubles and complete a 3-0 win for Netherlands. “It was quite difficult in the conditions, the court was quite heavy after the rain we’ve had and we have been waiting to play this tie, so it’s great to be in the semifinals.“
Netherlands will meet fourth seed Great Britain in the last four after David Phillipson, Gordon Reid, Marc McCarroll and Ed Holt all played a part in a 3-0 victory over Austria in the last tie of the week in Pool C. The quartet lost a total of just seven games across the two singles rubbers and doubles rubber as Britain finished top of the pool to make the semifinals for the first time since 2010.
For the second time this week world No. 6 Gustavo Fernandez was involved in a fascinating second singles rubber for his country as Argentina faced third seed Japan, and despite needing a repair to his tennis wheelchair towards the end of his second set against world No. 8 Takuya Miki, Fernandez held on for a 64 64 win.
However, world No. 10 Takashi Sanada remained unbeaten in the tie, partnering Miki to a 76(6) 63 victory over Oscar Diaz and Fernandez to give Japan the overall victory 2-1 and the top position in Pool D to line up a semifinal against top seed and defending champion France.
France, aiming for its third successive BNP Paribas World Team Cup men’s title this week, had little trouble securing the top spot in Pool A after Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer beat Poland’s Albun Batycki and Kamil Fabisiak, Cattaneo shedding the only two games against France in the two singles rubbers.
Third and fourth seeds miss out on World Group II sems
Just two of the top four seeds will feature in the men’s World Group II semifinals after Spain defeated fourth seed Switzerland and Italy beat third seed Canada on the last day of round-robin ties.
Going into the knockout phase of the competition Spain is one of two former World Group II winners still in contention to earn promotion to the World Group later this week after Alvaro Illobre beat Swiss Raphael Gremion 63 64 and Roberto Chamizo, a former junior event gold medallist, recovered from a slow start against Daniel Pellegrina to take the second singles rubber 16 75 62.
Martin Varela partnered Illobre to seal a 63 62 win in the doubles as Spain’s 3-0 Pool C victory set up a semifinal against second seed Belgium, a 2-1 winner over Sri Lanka in Pool B.
Upali Rajakaruna fought back to beat Mike Denayer 75 61 and give Sri Lanka the early advantage, but world No. 4 Joachim Gerard only lost one game to Gamini Dissanayake en route to forcing the doubles rubber, which he and Denayer won 62 61
“It wasn’t a good match for me today. I was 4-1 up in the first set, but he (Rajakaruna) played a very good second set,” said Denayer.
This year it’s nine years since Denayer and Gerard won the first of two successive World Team Cup junior titles for Belgium, doing so on the occasion of Netherlands last hosting the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event in Groeningen in 2005. Both players and teammate Gert Vos are among the teams eyeing promotion to the top tier of 12 nations after winning the bronze medal in World Group II in 2013.
“I feel we belong in the World Group and were unfortunate to meet (2013 World Group II winners) Australia in last year’s semifinals, so to get there this year would show nice progression after winning the junior title when we were last here as a team in 2005,” said Gerard.
The other semifinal will see top seed Brazil face Italy after Italy lost its opening Pool D rubber, the first of two hotly contested singles matches. Joel Dembe earned the lead for Canada after beating Luca Arca 64 75, but the highly experienced Fabian Mazzei held on in an even tighter encounter for 63 46 75 win over Philippe Bedard and Arca and Mazzei completed Italy’s comeback to clinch the doubles 63 62.
Carlos Santos beat Arriffahmi Zaquan Arrifin 63 61 and Daniel Rodrigues wasted little time in defeating Abu Samah Borhan 61 62 to put 2006 World Group II champion Brazil into an unassailable 2-0 lead in the final tie in Pool A.
Women's World Group pools near completion
The four semifinal berths in the women’s World Group are set to be confirmed on Friday after Thailand clinched the only deciding doubles rubber on the fourth day of play. With the players eager to get back on court after the rain delays earlier in the week Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Yi Lu beat Wanitha Inthanin 64 64 to give the winners of the Asian Qualification a solid start.
However, the experience of Thailand’s former world No. 6 Sakhorn Khanthasit came to the fore in the second singles rubber as she overcame Yi-Shan Wu 62 61 and then kept the momentum going when partnering Inthanin to dominate the doubles rubber for a 60 62 victory. Thailand now meets fourth seed Great Britain to bring Pool C to a close.
USA was already a singles rubber up on Russia after Kaitlyn Verfuerth had beaten Polina Shakirova 60 60 before Wednesday’s latest suspension for rain. When the tie resumed Emmy Kaiser had a more difficult task, but pulled through against Ludmila Bubnova 60 46 63. Russia will go into the last round-robin tie in Pool B against second seed Germany on the back of a win after Bubnova and Shakirova won the dead doubles rubber in a match tiebreak.
Korea Republic ends its pool ties facing third seed Japan after a 3-0 win Colombia that began with Myung-Hee Hwang fending off Johana Martinez 75 67(5) 61 and Ju-Yeon Park putting victory beyond the winners of the American Qualification after dropping just two games to Angelica Bernal.
Macarena Cabrillana, Francisca Mardones and Maria Paz Diaz dropped a total of just three games, two of them coming in the doubles rubber, in a 3-0 victory over Kenya. Chile now plays defending champion and top seed Netherlands in the remaining Pool A tie.