Reem Abulleil discusses the main takeaways from an eventful weekend of Davis Cup action.
A thrilling weekend of Davis Cup action has come to an end and defending champions France are still alive after surviving a tough tie against Netherlands, playing without Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils.
The French are through to the quarter-finals for a ninth consecutive year, thanks to Adrian Mannarino’s five-set win over Robin Haase to secure a 3-1 triumph for the hosts in Albertville, and they next take on Italy, who overcame Japan.
Here’s a look at the main takeaways from an eventful three days of Davis Cup clashes.
On paper, the tie pitting Great Britain against Spain, on clay, in Spain, looked like a slam dunk for the hosts. And while the Spaniards ended up winning and advancing to the quarter-finals for just the second time in six years, the showdown was a lot tighter than expected and it’s all thanks to brilliant debutant Cameron Norrie.
Playing his first Davis Cup rubber for Great Britain on Friday, Norrie, ranked 114 in the world, had never contested an ATP or Challenger-level match on clay. In front of a buoyant Marbella crowd, Norrie stunned Spanish world No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut by coming back from two sets down and taking the win in five.
“That’s one of the most amazing wins/results/upsets I’ve seen in a long time on a tennis court. Well done to Cam Norrie and all the team,” tweeted Andy Murray after the match.
We have to agree with the Scot.
But Norrie’s heroics didn’t stop there. In the fourth rubber against world No. 21 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Norrie stretched the 2016 French Open quarter-finalist to four sets before surrendering. A stunning effort from the 22-year-old!
SIGNIFICANT RESULT IN BRISBANE
For Zverev, it was his first success over a top-50 player in a best-of-five match and it comes on the heels of his disappointing third round loss to Chung Hyeon at the Australian Open. He also fought off inspired debutant Alex de Minaur in five sets in the first rubber (Zverev trailed two sets to one and won in a fifth-set tiebreak). Both wins will no doubt lift the 20-year-old’s spirits and he can use that to tackle a season where he is defending a lot of points, having won five titles last year.
For Kyrgios, this was definitely a big blow considering how highly he rates Davis Cup and how much he wanted to win the whole thing, not just the first round. The 22-year-old draws a lot of confidence and positivity from his performances for Australia and must be deeply disappointed by this result, compounded by the fact he wasn’t 100 per cent fit to compete (his elbow injury hampered his performance).
Still, Kyrgios has shown lots of encouraging signs during the Australian summer, winning the title in Brisbane before making the fourth round in Melbourne and this Davis Cup defeat should not derail his progress.
CORIC RISES IN ALL-NEXT GEN BATTLE
Only one spot separates Borna Coric (47) from Denis Shapovalov (48) in the world rankings, and they both belong to the ATP’s so-called Next Gen group of players, aged 21-and-under. But on court for the fourth rubber of the tie between Croatia and Canada in Osijek, the three-year age difference was evident as Coric, 21, eased past the 18-year-old Shapovalov in straight sets to secure a quarter-final berth for the hosts.
Coric made his Davis Cup debut in 2013, and has been nominated nine times. Shapovalov on the other hand made his debut for Canada in 2016 and has got four nominations to his name.
Playing for his country, and in front of his home crowd, it was Coric’s extra three years of experience that prevailed over the talented Shapovalov.
David Goffin’s commitment to Davis Cup continues to pay off for the Belgians, who are through to the World Group quarter-finals for a third time in the last four years. Goffin has won 19 of his last 20 Davis Cup singles rubbers and his two singles victories over the weekend proved crucial for the home side’s triumph over Hungary in Liege.
Former world No. 1 Marcelo Rios was filmed being abusive to reporters during Chile’s Americas Zone Group I first round tie against Ecuador in Santiago. Rios, who is the assistant team captain for Chile insulted the media and was handed a $2,500.
Why do previous players like Rios – and Ilie Nastase who was suspended for unacceptable behaviour during a Romania-Great Britain Fed Cup tie last year – insist on being part of Davis/Fed Cup when they have no intention of treating the media with respect and behaving themselves? A $2,500 fine seems way too lenient!