Photo: Jan-Pieter SchadeDaniel Rodrigues (BRA)
Two previous finalists will meet in Saturday’s men’s World Group II final at the 2014 BNP Paribas World Team Cup after top seed Brazil defeated Italy and second seed Belgium beat Spain in the semifinals on the fifth day of the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event.
Meanwhile, all four top seed countries will contest the women’s World Group semifinals after Netherlands, Germany, Japan and Great Britain all won their last round-robin pool ties as the best weather of the week greeted the players at Nieuwe Sloot Tennis Centre in Alphen, Netherlands.
Brazil, winner of men’s World Group II in 2006 and winner of this year’s Americas Qualification event, completed a 2-0 win over Italy as Carlos Santos and Daniel Rodrigues built their country an unassailable lead.
Santos earned a comprehensive 62 61 victory in the first singles rubber against Italy’s Ivan Tratter and Rodrigues beat Fabian Mazzei 62 62 to secure Brazil a place in the final for the second time.
Belgium’s semifinal started with a thrilling first singles rubber as Alvaro Illobre earned 2007 World Grup II champion Spain the lead after edging past Gert Vos 63 67(4) 76(5). World No. 4 Joachim Gerard raced to a 60 61 win over Robert Chamizo in the second singles rubber and then paired up with Mike Denayer to beat Chamizo and Illobre 60 62.
“Our first goal for the week was to get to the final and now that we have achieved that we can look forward to tomorrow, but it is going to be a lot tougher as Brazil has two very good singles players,” said Gerard, who partnered Denayer to win back-to-back junior titles for Belgium in 2005 and 2006.
Top four dominate to reach women’s World Group semis
After the rain delays earlier in the week the top four seeds finally got the chance to play their second and last Women’s World Group round-robin pool ties, each of them advancing to the semifinals with few problems and only one of the 10 rubbers played on the day going to three sets.
The only third set came in Germany’s Pool B tie against Russia as Ludmila Bubnova took world No. 9 Katharina Kruger to a decider. However, with Bianca Osterer having beaten Polina Shakirova 62 61, Kruger eventually clinched the tie for second seed Germany with a 63 26 62 victory over Bubnova.
Top seed and defending champion Netherlands finished top of Pool A after earning a 3-0 win over Chile, with world No. 6 Marjolein Buis Buis beating Macarena Cabrillana 61 63 and world No. 3 van Koot defeating Francisca Mardones 64 64 before partnering Sharon Walraven to win the doubles.
“My singles was a bit shaky today, but also Francisca played very well. The doubles was a lot better for us and it is always nice to be playing at home in front of a Dutch crowd, so we are looking forward t the weekend,” said van Koot.
Kanako Domori overcame Young-Suk Hong 62 75, while current world No. 1 Yui Kamiji eased to a 62 60 win over Ju-Yeon Park to give third seed Japan victory over Korea Republic in Pool D , with Myung-Hee Hwang and Hong teaming up to round-off another 3-0 victory.
There was no doubles played in the remaining Pool C tie between fourth seed Great Britain and Thailand after Lucy Shuker and Jordanne, who have led Britain to two Women’s World Group finals since 2009, defeated Wanitha Inthanin and Sakhorn Khanthasit, respectively.
Great Britain now has a semifinal against Germany, who will be without world No. 2 Sabine Ellerbrock for the last four contest. That leaves Japan to take on 26-time champion Netherlands in the other semifinal and the outcome of both semifinals could result in the same two medal matches as in 2013.