AUSTRALIA has become the first nation to secure the Davis Cup Finals knockout spot, after a second straight win in Pool C. The Aussies defeated France leaving just Germany to come and determine who will top the Pool, while United States’ second win – defeating Kazakhstan – also moved the nation into prime position for a spot in the knockout stage, but less convincing. In other results, Croatia kept its hopes of advancing alive with a win over Sweden, as did Serbia who knocked the Republic of Korea out of contention in the process.
CROATIA (2) defeated SWEDEN (1)
Pool A | Bologna
Croatia was able to bounce back from a loss to Italy the day before to keep its hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage still alive with a 2-1 victory over Sweden. The Swedes were coming off an upset win over Argentina on the opening day of the tournament, with Elias Ymer making it back-to-back victories thanks to a straight sets win over Borna Gojo. In an hour and 40 minutes, Ymer hit 21 winners to 11 and had two less unforced errors (20-22) as the Swede won 74 and 64 per cent of his first serve points, breaking three times to one.
Despite brother Mikael fighting hard to make it a 2-0 start, he was unable to close out his singles match against Borna Coric. It was far from convincing for Coric who was up against it with Ymer able to match him for winners (26), but the Croatian hit six less unforced errors and critically broke a second time – in the deciding set, having had 11 chances to do so throughout the match. The in-form Croatian won in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-3 to level the overall tie and send the match into a decider.
Former world number one doubles pairing Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic were strong favourites against the Ymer brothers, and though the latter did fight hard, the Croatians won in straight sets 7-5 6-3, to take out the tie 2-1.The Croatian pairing only hit five unforced errors to the Swede’s 14, while winning 72 and 62 per cent of their first and second serve points to win the match, and the tie.
SERBIA (2) defeated REPUBLIC OF KOREA (1)
Pool B | Valencia
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated Seong Chan Hong (KOR) 6-4 6-0
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-3 6-4
Ji Sung Nam / Min-kyu Song (KOR) defeated Nikola Cacic / Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-4 6-2
Despite a narrow miss on day one, Republic of Korea could not find a way to get it done against Serbia, ruling them out of advancing to the knockout stages of the competition. Both singles matches were straight sets losses, with the 467th tanked Seong Chan Hong no match for the 92nd ranked – and former Top 30 – Dusan Lajovic. The latter won in an hour and 37 minutes, only losing 15 points on serve for the entire match and never dropping a break. The Serbian created 18 break point chances himself, but could only break the four times, though ran away with the match in the second set.
Miomir Kecmanovic ensured Soonwoo Kwon could not repeat his giant-killing performance from the opening day in the crunch match. Kwon defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in the South Korean’s opening tie, but Kecmanovic did what he had to in order to win 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 19 minutes. Kwon hit 18 winners to 15 and only nine unforced errors to 14, but the placement off Kecmanovic’s racquet forced the South Koren to hit 33 forced errors to 15.
The South Koreans did pick up a reward for effort with a straight sets win in the doubles. Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song won against specialist doubles player Nikola Cacic, and Filip Krajinovic. The Koreans served 10 aces to one and doubled their opponents winners (17-8) whilst only hitting one more unforced error (6-5). They also broke four times to one during the 6-4 6-2 win.
AUSTRALIA (2) defeated FRANCE (1)
Pool C | Hamburg
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Jason Kubler (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 6-3 1-6 6-4
Matthew Ebden / Max Purcell (AUS) defeated Nicolas Mahut / Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-4 6-4
Australia stamped its ticket into the next stage of the Davis Cup with a 2-1 victory over France. The Aussies were made for work for it this time unlike their cleansweep of Belgium, but still held on with the deciding doubles tie. Veteran Richard Gasquet got his nation off to the perfect start wit ha straight sets win over Jason Kubler, 6-2 6-4. Hitting nine more winners than Kubler (25-16), Gasquet hit the same amount of unforced errors (12), whilst winning 63 and 71 per cent of his first and second serve points to show off his consistency.
Australian top-ranked singles player Alex de Minaur got his side back on level pegging, defeating Benjamin Bonzi in three sets. The Aussie was made to work for it against Bonzi who is suited to de Minaur’s counter-punching style, though the higher ranked Aussie was able to get the job done. Bonzi hit 10 more winners than de Minaur (23-13) but also 10 more unforced errors (30-20), as de Minaur created more break point opportunities even though both players could only break four times each.
In the deciding doubles match, the Australian pairing of Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell won in straight sets over Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknecht, 6-4 6-4. The Aussies served the only five aces of the match, and hit nine more winners (29-20) and only two more unforced errors (5-3) in a tight and accurate match. The win meant Australia has booked its place in the next stage with the final day tie against Germany to determine who tops the group.
UNITED STATES (2) defeated KAZAKHSTAN (1)
Pool D | Glasgow
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-1 6-4
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6 1-6 6-3
Aleksandr Nedovyesov / Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Rajeev Ram / Jack Sock (USA) 6-2 7-6
The United States moved into prime position to advance through to the knockout stage of the tournament, picking up a second win, this time against Kazakhstan. Both the United States wins have been 2-1 results, with the tie-saving doubles pairing of the first match being the only one to lose this time around. Tommy Paul kick-started the American charge with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin. The American served six aces to one, and won 79 per cent of his first serve points to close out the match in impressive style.
Closing out the match without needing a deciding set, Taylor Fritz was able to claim a win this time around, defeating Alexander Bublik in three sets. Though Fritz was disappointing in the second set, he did enough in the tight two other sets to win, 7-6 1-6 6-3. He had 11 less unforced errors than the Kazakh (11-18) and though seven less winners (10-17), won 79 and 59 per cent of his first and second serve points.
Ensuring they at least got on the board in the deciding match, the Kazakhstani’s were able to record a straight sets win over American pairing Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock. Bublik and Aleksandr Nedovyesov looked good early, but then had to go to a nail-biting second set where the y won 8-7 in a tiebreaker for an overall win of 6-2 7-6 in and hour and 17 minutes. The Americans hit 23 winners to 18 but also had a massive 14 unforced errors to eight, resulting in the underdogs winning with the only two service breaks of the match.