SWITZERLAND knocked world number six Germany out of the Davis Cup Finals contention after a spirited 3-2 victory over their European counterpart. Switzerland – lead by Marc-Andrea Huesler and Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka – fought back from 1-2 down to book their spot in November’s main event. The lowest ranked nation in the World Group Qualifiers at 40th, Switzerland defied their low status with the victory, boasting a surprisingly strong team.
The tie started off well on Friday with Huesler fighting back from a set down to oust Oscar Otte in two flat hours, winning 2-6 6-2 6-4 to hand his nation a 1-0 lead. Both players served nine aces, with Huesler hitting an additional 27 winners to 15, while only hitting five more unforced errors (39-34).
Germany was quick to get back on top with Alexander Zverev snapping his poor start to the 2023 season off next to no preparation due to injury in the second half of last year, defeating Wawrinka relatively easily in straight sets. The match lasted 96 minutes as Zverev levelled the tie with a 6-4 6-1 win. He served eight aces to nil, and while he was far from impressive, Wawrinka was not his usual self.
In the doubles, the specialist pairing of Tim Puetz and Andreas Mies came from behind against Wawrinka and Dominic Stricker to post a 6-7 6-3 6-4 win in two hours and 17 minutes. That helped edge the Germans ahead and saw the home nation move to 2-1 overall in the tie, hitting a whopping 41 winners to 18, and only four more unforced errors (25-21).
A crunch match for Swizerland was the second one on day two, with Huesler having to face Zverev. With a lot more tennis under his belt of late, Huesler dominated the first set, then ground out a second set tiebreak win to salute, 6-2 7-6. He hit 21 winners to 10 and only 23 unforced errors in an impressive effort.
The tie went to a decider and it was Stan the Man up against Daniel Altmaier who had been subbed in for Otte. Both players went toe-for-toe across three sets, before the Swiss veteran used all of his experience to win, 6-3 5-7 6-4 in an epic contest. It went down to the wire, but Wawrinka’s ability to come up clutch proved too good, and Switzerland won to book its place in the Davis Cup Finals, no doubt shooting up the world rankings.
“We have a great team,” Wawrinka said post-match. “They’ve been building this team for the last few years. I was happy to come back if they need me to help. I’m the oldest by far, but we had a great week. We were really helping each other — it was a great week for us.”
Huesler said he was thrilled with his fourth Top 20 victory, and being able to keep Switzerland in the tie, eventually setting up the win via his two singles victories.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I played a great match from A to Z. I had a clear gameplan that I was following. At the end I was very nervous but I was really happy with the way I was able to close it out.
“We have a couple of young guys who are improving every year. “That’s why we’re here where we are. We’ve really worked our way up to this stage.”
ACROSS THE COURTS
In the ties decided by Saturday, France survived a scare against Hungary to win 3-2. The world number threes came agonisingly close to being bundled out of the World Group, but wins to Adrian Mannarino and Ugo Humbert saved the day.
The biggest comeback of the round was that of South Korea, who fought back from a 0-2 start against Belgium to win its final three singles matches. Soonwoo Kwon – who suffered a shock loss to Zizou Bergs on day one – defeated David Goffin, while Seong Chan Hong took down Bergs to seal the result.
After Daniel Evans went down in unfathomable circumstances to Nicolas Mejia on day one, Great Britain’s full strength side easily overpowered Colombia. The ninth ranked nation won 3-1 with Cameron Norrie winning both his singles matches.
Unsurprisingly, the United States also destroyed Uzbekistan, running out 4-0 winners in Tashkent. Mackenzie McDonald, Tommy Paul and Denis Kudla all got a run in the singles and won their respective matches.
Likewise Serbia cruised to a 4-0 win over Norway, with the latter missing its star player. In the absence of Casper Ruud, Norway was no match for a strong Serbian side that featured Miomir Kecmanovic and Laslo Djere.
In the other tie concluded on Saturday, Sweden knocked off Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1, with the Ymer brothers – Mikael and Elias – starring. Mikael won both his singles, with Elias winning one, and while Bosnia and Herzegovina won the doubles, it was never going to be enough.