Croatia, Serbia keep Davis Cup dreams alive

CROATIA and Serbia have kept their Davis Cup title dreams alive with important final round robin wins overnight. Croatia has won back-to-back matches since dropping its first game to Italy, and just needs Italy to win in order to progress to the next stage. Serbia needs Spain to lose to the winless Kazakhstan which seems unlikely with the team they beat – Canada – able to still advance. In the other groups, Netherlands topped Pool D, and France finished ahead of Belgium – though still did not advance – in Pool C.

CROATIA (3) defeated ARGENTINA (0)

Pool A | Bologna

Borna Gojo (CRO) defeated Sebastian Baez (ARG) 6-1 3-6 6-3
Borna Coric (CRO) defeated Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-4 7-6
Nikola Mektic / Mate Pavic (CRO) defeated Maximo Gonzalez / Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 6-2 7-5

Croatia was able to cleansweep Argentina in a 3-0 rout, proving too strong for the South Americans. The top ranked nation and last year’s runner-up kept its dreams of winning another Davis Cup title alive, thanks to an incredible against-the-odds win. Borna Gojo was able to grind out a three-set win over Sebastian Baez, serving 10 aces and winning 72 per cent of his first serve points, while the Argentinian hit 10 more unforced errors (27-17).

Borna Coric then set up the win with a straight sets victory over Francisco Cerundolo, albeit in a tight one. Getting up 6-4 7-6, Coric only hit 15 unforced errors to Cerundolo’s 23, as both produced 20 winners. The Top 30 talent also won 77 and 55 per cent of his first and second serve points in the win, compared to the Argentinian’s 63 and 44 per cent.

The former number one doubles pairing of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic also celebrated a win, knocking off their Argentinian counterparts, Maximo Gonzalez and Horacio Zeballos in straight sets. The Croatians won 6-2 7-5 in just 73 minutes, without dropping a service game. They saved both break points against them, broke the Argentinians twice, and won 82 and 60 per cent of their first and second serve points in the victory to ensure an overall tie win of 3-0.

SERBIA (2) defeated CANADA (1)

Pool B | Valencia

Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Gabriel Diallo (CAN) 6-2 6-2
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Miomir Kecmanovic / Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Alexis Galarneau / Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 2-1 RET

Canada qualified for the Davis Cup Finals as Serbia kept its slim chance alive during a 2-1 victory to the latter. The North Americans needed just one match win from the contest to ensure they would move through to the next stage, finishing ahead of Serbia regardless of what Spain does in its final match. In the tie, it was a relatively quick day as all matches were straight forward. The doubles ended up going just three games after Vasek Pospisil‘s sore knee could not manage any more.

Earlier in the day, Laslo Djere got Serbia off to the perfect start, defeating Gabriel Diallo in straight sets, 6-2 6-2. Producing four aces and breaking four times without getting broken, the Serbian was too strong for his less experienced opponent, securing the important 6-2 6-2 win and getting his nation off to the perfect start.

Knowing the importance of the occasion and must-win nature of the second match, Felix Auger-Aliassime played his best tennis to down the in-form Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets. The world number 13 won 6-3 6-4, serving a massive 14 aces and only hitting 12 unforced errors to overpower the Serbian. He saved both break points against himself, and secured two from four upon return during the victory.

FRANCE (2) defeated BELGIUM (1)

Pool C | Hamburg

Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Michael Geerts (BEL) 6-3 6-3
David Goffin (BEL) defeated Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Nicolas Mahut / Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated Sander Gille / Joran Vliegen (BEL) 6-3 7-6

France finished its Davis Cup Finals campaign off with a win over Belgium in the battle of the winless Pool C sides. The French won 2-1 to ensure they finished third overall, closing out the tie in a doubles decider. Richard Gasquet started the French resistance in the first match with a relative straightforward 6-3 6-3 victory over lowly ranked Michael Geerts. Against the 268th player in the world, the 47th ranked Gasquet hit two more winners (14-12), and really controlled off the backhand wing, hitting 10 winners. He also hit nine less unforced errors (7-16) in an impressive performance.

Giving Belgium some hope, former Top 10 player David Goffin was able to grind out a three-set win over Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi in two hours and 18 minutes. Goffin won 6-3 5-7 6-3 in an impressive victory. Goffin hit 38 winners to 17 unforced errors, compared to Bonzi’s 14 and 20 respectively, whilst being able to hold up despite producing an errant eight double faults.

French doubles pairing Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknech also won their match, defeating Belgian duo Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, 6-3 7-6. The match lasted one hour and 27 minutes, with the Belgians serving six aces and winning 73 per cent of their first serve points. The French duo was able to back up better off the second serve, winning 80 per cent of points to follow on from 71 per cent of their first serve points, off an 80 per cent clip.


Pool D | Glasgow

Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-5 7-6
Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-4 7-6
Rajeev Ram / Jack Sock (UA) defeated Wesley Koolhof / Matwe Middelkoop (NED) 4-6 7-6 6-4

With both teams already qualified, Netherlands was able to win the title of group topper, defeating United States 2-1 thanks to a couple of big singles upsets. In remarkable form this tournament, the Dutch throughly deserved their unbeaten status at the tournament, surprising much higher ranked opponents. Tallon Griekspoor produced the performance of his tournament, running out a 7-5 7-6 winner over Tommy Paul. The Dutchman served serve aces to five and hit 24 winners to 20, whilst both players were clean with just two unforced errors apiece during the hard-fought straight sets result.

Following on from Griekspoor’s win, Botic Van de Zandschulp got up over the impressive Taylor Fritz in another tight two-setter. The Dutchman needed 96 minutes to win 6-4 7-6, serving 11 aces and winning 86 per cent of his first serve points. It was truly a battle of strong servers, with Fritz serving four aces and winning 89 per cent of his first serve points, with nothing between the players off the second serves. The difference was Van de Zandschulp hitting 25 winners to 19, and only two unforced errors.

The tie was done and dusted, but to the Americans credit, they fought right to the end, and were able to produce a big three-set win over Dutch duo, Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop. The American pairing of Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock got the job done 4-6 7-6 6-4, coming from behind to win in three sets. They served five aces to three and though they hit 16 less winners (30-46), they were more critical in key points. Though ultimately a dead rubber, the United States will still be a threat in the knockout stage.

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