US spoil home nations party as Spain, Italy cleansweep opponents

A DECIDING doubles match win by the United States spoiled the party for home nation Great Britain in Glasgow, becoming the only Davis Cup Finals match to go the way of the visitor. The four home nations were in action across the globe in their respective Pools, with Italy and Spain winning 3-0, while Germany scraped past France 2-1 in the other match.

ITALY (3) defeated CROATIA (0)

Pool A | Bologna

Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Borna Gojo (CRO) 6-4 6-2
Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Borna Coric (CRO) 6-7 6-2 6-1
Simone Bolelli / Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Nikola Mektic / Mate Pavic (CRO) 3-6 7-5 7-6

Italy cruised to a whitewash of top ranked Croatia in Bologna, digging deep in the last two matches to win the tie 3-0 and move to the top of Pool A. In front of home fans, the Italians chose to play the lower ranked Lorenzo Musetti against Borna Gojo, with the young gun still ranked more than 100 places higher than his Croatian opponent. He won in straight sets 6-4 6-2, easing the burden on Matteo Berrettini in the second match.

The Top 20 talent was able to fight back from a losing tiebreaker in the first set to only drop three games in the final two sets, and defeat the dangerous Borna Coric, 6-7 6-2 6-1. Wrapping up the day with a massive win, Fabio Fognini teamed up with doubles specialist Simone Bolelli against one of the best pairings in the world in Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic. Despite dropping the first set, the Italians got back on top in the second and scraped through to win 3-6 7-5 7-6 and ensure they swept last year’s runners-up.

Musetti held firm against Gojo’s strong serve which saw eight aces for 21 winners, but also 22 unforced errors. By comparison, the youngster was able to remain steady and had 20 winners – three aces – and only seven unforced errors in a disciplined display.

Berrettini served 13 aces to Coric’s five, and won 78 per cent of his first serve points off a 67 per cent clip, compared to the Croatian’s 67 off 58 per cent. He also broke five times to one, really taking control in the final two sets. In the doubles, the Italians did not serve an ace and hit five double faults, but produced a massive 45 winners and only 16 unforced errors, while the Croatians had 31 winners and 18 unforced errors.

SPAIN (3) defeated SERBIA (0)

Pool B | Valencia

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 2-6 7-6 7-5
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 7-6 7-6
Marcel Granollers / Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Nikola Cacic / Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-7 6-2 6-2

Spain has swept Serbia in a strong performance even minus recent US Open winner Carlos Alcaraz and the absent world number three, Rafael Nadal. In their absence, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Roberto Bautista Agut both won respective singles matches in tight ones, before the Spanish doubles pairing came from a set down to storm to victory in two hours and two minutes. Serbia was minus former world number one Novak Djokovic in the clash as well.

Ramos-Vinolas kick-started the day with a come-from-behind win in almost three hours over Laslo Djere. Trailing 2-6 after a set, Ramos-Vinolas dug deep to engage in a two-hour and 54-minute thriller to win, 2-6 7-6 7-5. In the second singles, Bautista-Agut ground out a straight sets win over Miomir Kecmanovic, but needed two tiebreakers – both 7-5 – to collect the win and ensure Spain saluted in the tie. Though the tie was safe in Spain’s hands, Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martinez fought hard to come from behind to win the deciding doubles after dropping the first set in a tiebreaker. They defeated Serbian duo, Nikola Cacic and Dusan Lajovic.

Djere served seven aces in the loss to Ramos-Vinolas, as the Spaniard responded with 16 winners and 19 unforced errors compared to Djere’s 26 and 33 respectively. Ramos-Vinolas only broke three times to Djere’s four, but won 69 per cent of his first serve points off a 70 per cent clip. Bautista Agut hit three more winners (31-28) and five less unforced errors (15-20) during his win over Kecmanovic, as both played broke three times in the two-tiebreaker match. In the doubles, Granollers and Martinez only dropped four games in the final two sets for the 6-7 6-2 6-2 victory, hitting 45 winners to 19, and only 12 unforced errors to 21.

GERMANY (2) defeated FRANCE (1)

Pool C | Hamburg

Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 6-4 2-6 7-5
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Oscar Otte (GER) 6-4 6-3
Kevin Krawietz / Tim Puetz (GER) defeated Nicolas Mahut / Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-2 3-6 7-6

Germany escaped with an opening win in Pool C by the skin of their teeth against a determined French outfit, even minus Alexander Zverev. Instead of the Top 5 player, the home side went with Jan-Lennard Struff and Oscar Otte to take on Benjamin Bonzi and Adrian Mannarino respectively. Struff was able to get his nation off to the perfect start, though not without a fight from Bonzi. He dropped the second set 6-2, but was able to recover to post a 6-4 2-6 7-5 win in two hours and 14 minutes.

It was more straightforward for Mannarino, who was far too experienced for Otte who was playing his first Davis Cup match. The Frenchman was able to grind out a regulation 6-4 6-3 victory over the German and ensure the tie went to a deciding doubles. The specialist doubles pairing of Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz seemed to be the difference, overcoming specialist doubles veteran Nicolas Mahut, and part-time doubles player Arthur Rinderknech 6-2 3-6 7-6, dominating the third set tiebreak, 7-1.

The fast-serving Struff took advantage in his home nation, serving 14 aces to five and winning 70 per cent of his first serve points on his way to 29 winners. He did hit nine more unforced errors (22-13), but was able to save eight break points as both he and Bonzi produced four breaks of serve. In Mannarino’s win, the Frenchman hit 26 winners including five aces and won a consistent 85 per cent of his first serve points compared to Otte’s 62 per cent which was a key difference in the match. In the doubles, the Germans hit just five unforced errors to 29 winners, as they outplayed the Frenchmen in a thriller.


Pool D | Glasgow

Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 4-6 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 2-6 7-6 7-6
Rajeev Ram / Jack Sock (USA) defeated Andy Murray / Joe Salisbury (GBR) 5-7 6-4 7-5

A crunch final two games in the deciding doubles set saw the United States take down the higher ranked Great Britain outfit to go a long way to qualifying for the knockout finals. The top two seeds in the Pool put on a show, and it went right down until the final two games when Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock produced a crucial break of serve to secure the deciding match against Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury, 5-7 6-4 7-5.

The doubles had become a deciding match after the singles were split, with the Americans and British both winning a match each in tight three-set contests. First up, Tommy Paul was able to grind out a win against Daniel Evans, with all three sets being 6-4 and the American Top 30 talent winning 6-4 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes.

Top 10 player Cameron Norrie was able to get his nation back on track, winning in front of home fans in two hours and 12 minutes, 2-6 7-6 7-5 against Taylor Fritz to level the scores. It would prove fruitless in the end though, as the Americans closed out the tie in the doubles.

In the opening singles match, Paul hit 36 winners – including five aces – on his way to victory against the conservative Evans who managed the 25 and two respectively. Paul won 67 and 45 per cent of his first and second serve points to marginally edge the Brit’s 63 and 45 per cent, and also broke five times to four, both from 13 opportunities.

Levelling the tie, Norrie weathered 14 aces and 24 winners off Fritz’s racquet, while having 19 and six himself. He was not always consistent off his first serve (winning 65 to Fritz’s 75 per cent), but his ability to get the ball in play helped him serve at a higher efficiency. Rajeev and Sock hit 52 winners to 43 and their fourth break of serve was the difference in the end.

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