It’s Davis Cup Day 2 (except in Osaka and Ramat Hasharon, but I’m not going to stress about it), and today is all about the dubs – the “crucial third rubber” in DC lingo. And the one thing I’ve figured out about Davis Cup?
It’s the doubles, stupid!
What a wonderful state of affairs! Doubles – long marginalized in the media and in the hearts and minds of fans and players – is literally the centerpiece of Davis Cup. It gets its very own day, a full five sets and the key role of either deciding the whole thing or pushing one team to the brink of victory. Like today, when the powerhouse Israeli doubles team, Erlich/Ram, fought off a ferocious five set (four hour and 56 minutes) challenge from the Gold medal pairing of Gonzalez/Massu. Can you imagine the foot stomping and flag waving going on in that stadium? From watching both Gonzo and Peer play live, I know that both the Chileans and Israelis put the “fan” in “fanatical”.
There’s still plenty of dubs drama to come! Here are some exciting Day 2 match-ups:
1. Serbia v. Australia (1-1 after Day 1)
Djokovic/Zimonjic against Hanley/Hewitt. It’s not so much who wins this as what it means for the fourth rubber when Djokovic takes on Hewitt. Talk about high stakes! It will be interesting to see how Djokovic deals with the pressure, considering his choke-a-thon in the US Open finals. But Davis Cup pressure is different, and maybe less intense, for a You Tube superstar like Dojky.
2. Great Britain v. Croatia (2-0 after Day 1)
Poor Ivan Ljubicic – the man’s been hospitalized with kidney stones, for goodness sakes! He’s got to be the oldest 28-year-old on the planet. On the other hand, his misfortune gave Henman a chance to win easily against Croatian substitute Roko Karanusic. So surprise, surprise, this may be decided in 3! And rumor has it that Henman will substitute for one of the Murrays in the doubles tomorrow, so he’s sure to have that last, sweet win before retirement. It may not be a Wimbledon Final, but it’s a hell of a way to leave the game. Go Tim!
3. Czech Republic v. Switzerland (1-1 after Day 1)
This probably won’t be all that dramatic, but I’d still watch it if it was showing on my TV. Damm/Dlouhy have an edge, given their doubles prowess, meaning that it could come down to Wawrinka and Stepanek in the final rubber. Even having Roger Federer around doesn’t guarantee his team Davis Cup victory. Why? It’s the doubles, stupid!
4. USA v. Sweden (1-1 after Day 1)
Let me take this opportunity to say “Stefan Edberg, you are still one gorgeous man!”
Okay, so the Bryans should have their way on Day 2, although Aspelin/Bjorkman will definitely put up a fight. Either way, if the ancient T. Johansson plays anything like he played Blake in the second rubber (the one match I caught on TIVO), Andy is going to have a really tough time. And do we really want the fate of the USA on James Blake’s racket?
5. Russia v. Germany (1-1 after Day 1)
This is probably the least interesting scenario for me. No matter how it turns out, the money match is the fourth rubber, Haas v. Davydenko. I’m pulling for Russia to win the semis (it would make for a more exciting final against team USA, if things go well), but I’m actually starting to feel sorry for Tommy Haas. The guy just can’t catch a break. It would make me feel better if he gets to play the hero in the fourth rubber.
Despite my DC Dubs epiphany, I’m still in the dark on a few things:
1. Why are the matches called “rubbers”? I can’t think of any reason, even if I take it into naughty territory.
2. Why does the Tennis Channel’s broadcast look so bad? It’s like I’ve taped the matches on my VCR or something.
3. What is the Versus network, and why is it showing tennis?