Swedes stun as Aussies, Canadians and Dutch win Davis Cup openers

THREE of the Davis Cup Finals Group matches have been run and done, with Sweden, Australia and Netherlands all picking up victories in their respective groups. Sweden knocked off Argentina in a big Group A upset, Australia cruised to a 3-0 whitewash of Belgium in Group C, and Netherlands took down Kazakhstan in Group D. Meanwhile Canada survived a scare against Republic of Korea to also pick u pa win on the opening day.

SWEDEN (2) defeated ARGENTINA (1)

Pool A | Bologna

Elias Ymer (SWE) defeated Sebastian Baez (ARG) 6-4 3-6 7-6
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-2 6-2
Maximo Gonzalez / Horacio Zeballos (ARG) defeated Andre Goransson / Elias Ymer (SWE) 3-6 6-3 6-2

Sweden has caused a huge day one upset with the four ranked side in Pool A knocking off the third ranked side Argentina, 2-1. The Ymer brother were outstanding against higher ranked opponents, with Elias Ymer taking down Top 40 talent Sebastian Baez in a tight three-setter, and Mikael Ymer storming past Top 20 player Diego Schwartzman in a one-sided affair.

Gaining an important win just in case Argentina can topple the two higher ranked nations, the doubles pairing of Maximo Gonzales and Horacio Zeballos fought past dropping the first set to claim a three-set victory.

In Elias Ymer’s victory over Baez, he won 75 per cent of his first serve points, hitting 28 winners including three aces. Though he hit 48 unforced errors to Baez’s 35, the Argentinian could not make up the difference on serve claiming just 59 per cent of his first serve points.

It was a much more dominant performance from Mikael Ymer against Schwartzman, hitting 17 winners to eight and have 11 less unforced errors too (23-34), whilst winning 70 and 57 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to the Argentinian’s 54 and 29 per cent to seal the win.


Pool B | Valencia

Vasek Pospisil (CAN) defeated Seong Chan Hong (KOR) 4-6 6-1 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 6-3
Felix Auger-Aliassime / Vasek Pospisil (CAN) defeated Ji Sung Nam / Minkyu Song (KOR) 7-5 5-7 6-3

Canada has pulled off a great escape against the lowest ranked nation at the Davis Cup, Republic of Korea. The Canadians got off to a good start with Vasek Pospisil taking care of Seong Chan Hong, albeit in a come-from-behind win and one that was far closer than the North Americans would have liked. Pospisil needed three sets and a deciding set tiebreaker to finally get it done.

The Koreans fight would continue into the second match, with Soonwoo Kwon – ranked just inside the Top 100 – stunning Top 10 talent Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets. That levelled the tie’s scores, with the doubles to come. After two sets, Ji Sung Nam and Minkyu Song were level with the highly touted Canadian pairing, and had a break in the deciding set, before Pospisil and Auger-Aliassime broke back and took out the win in two hours and 18 minutes, 7-5 5-7 6-3.

Pospisil controlled the game off his own racquet in the singles, smashing 34 winners, but 43 unforced errors, compared to the more conservative Hong (13 winners, 10 unforced errors). The nine aces and 67 and 50 per cent success rate off his serve was crucial for Pospisil, but he was only able to break Hong four times to three, and went all the way to 7-5 in the deciding set tiebreaker.

Kwon’s upset 7-6 6-3 win over Auger-Aliassime saw the South Korean hit nine aces to eight, and 15 winners to 10, whilst having four less unforced errors (16-20). It enabled him to break once in that second set and secure the victory to level the scores in an incredible upset.

In the doubles it looked like Canada was going to get the easy win, but a fightback from the Koreans – and then the ability to go a break in front in the decider – had the North Americans on the ropes. Winning the last four games, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil won the last four games of the match to win in an epic and close out the tie for Canada.

AUSTRALIA (3) defeated BELGIUM (0)

Pool C | Hamburg

Jason Kubler (AUS) defeated Zizou Bergs (BEL) 6-4 1-6 6-3
Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated David Goffin (BEL) 6-2 6-2
Matthew Ebden / Max Purcell (AUS) defeated Sander Gille / Joran Vliegen (BEL) 6-1 6-3

It was a relatively straightforward win for Australia in Pool C, with the Aussies taking care of the bottom-ranked Belgians. The green and gold chose to bring in late inclusion Jason Kubler, rewarding him for his recent form on Tour and he did not let them down. Kubler knocked off second singles player Zizou Bergs in three sets, before top seed Alex de Minaur took care of David Goffin in a quick 65-minute victory.

Despite the tie being done and dusted, the Australians still kept the intensity up, taking down the specialist Belgian doubles pairing of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, with Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell winning 6-1 6-3 in 64 minutes.

Though it was the toughest match of the day for the Aussies, Kubler managed to get the job done against Bergs, 6-4 1-6 6-3 in and hour and 54 minutes. Kubler won 55 and 64 per cent of his first and second serve points, and though he only hit nine winners – to Bergs’ 25 – he only only hit 27 unforced errors (Bergs 37), as both players broke four times each.

A much quicker match saw the consistent de Minaur break four times from five chances against Goffin, whilst saving both break points against him. He won 77 and 69 per cent of his first and second serve points, and helped the Aussies to the victory. Ebden and Purcell also overpowered Gille and Vliegen, hitting 25 winners to 14 in their strong performance.


Pool D | Glasgow

Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-1 3-6 6-3
Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 3-6 6-1 6-4
Alexander Bublik / Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) defeated Wesley Koolhof / Matwe Middelkoop (NED) 6-4 1-6 6-3

Netherlands put its first win of the Davis Cup Finals in the books with a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan. All three matches went the full distance in the closest tie of Day 1, though the Dutchmen were able to relax a little having secured both singles matches. Tallon Griekspoor won against veteran Kazakh Mikhail Kuskushkin in three sets, coming back from dropping the second set to post a 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory in the opening match of the tie.

The matches remained tight from there, with Dutch bolter over the past 12 months, Botic Van de Zandschulp picking up a come-from-behind victory over tricky top-ranked Kazakh, Alexander Bublik. Van de Zandschulp won 3-6 6-1 6-4 to make it a 2-0 sweep heading into the doubles. In another tight affair, Kazakhstan kept the door ajar for advancing into the next stage with a 6-4 1-6 6-3 triumph over the Dutch pairing of Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop. Bublik teamed up with Nedovyesov to win in three sets in a vital recovery point.

In the opening clash of the tie, Griekspoor won a massive 87 per cent of his first serve points, and 69 per cent of his second serve points, only broken twice throughout the three set match. The Dutchman broke Kuskushkin four times from 12 chances, and in a real dour struggle the pair hit just a combined 11 winners and 12 unforced errors in the conservative contest.

In a far different contest to the first match, Van de Zandschulp powered his way to a victory over Bublik courtesy of 30 winners – including five aces – compared to the Kazakh’s 21 and three respectively. He was also able to break four times to two, and only hit 10 unforced errors to 16, winning in exactly two hours. The doubles match went for one hour and 45 minutes before the Kazakhstani’s got a win on the board, combining for 33 winners to the Netherland’s 26, though also hitting 10 more unforced errors (21-11),. In the end they ground out the win in a real thriller to cap off the day’s play.

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