Davis Cup is the most emotional event in tennis. The pressures of playing for team and country either lift players up to the heights of glory or push them deep into dank pits of shame and despair. Which from a fan perspective, makes Davis Cup damn entertaining, even if you’re watching a fuzzy broadcast of Mardy Fish vs. Marin Cilic in the fifth set on clay.
Here are the highs and lows of this weekend’s Davis Cup Quarterfinals:
You know it’s a good tie when there’s a live 5th rubber. Radek “The Worm” Stepanek steamrolled Juan Monaco in the penultimate match, inventing yet another diabolical victory dance:
“Stepanek collapsed in a heap and then, while seated, grabbed hold of an imaginary steering wheel: there had never been much doubt who was in the driving seat, although apparently there had been the night before when Stepanek’s knee condition was giving serious cause for concern.” (via daviscup.com)
Poor Juan, no wonder he was driven to tears:
CZECH REPUBLIC vs. ARGENTINA scores:
R1 – T.BERDYCH (CZE) def. J.MONACO (ARG): 6-4 2-6 2-6 6-3 6-2
R2 – J.DEL POTRO (ARG) def. I.MINAR (CZE): 6-1 6-3 6-3
R3 – R.STEPANEK / T.BERDYCH (CZE) def. L.MAYER / J.ACASUSO (ARG): 6-1 6-4 6-3
R4 – J.DEL POTRO (ARG) def. T.BERDYCH (CZE): 6-4 6-4 6-4
R5 – R.STEPANEK (CZE) def. J.MONACO (ARG): 7-6(5) 6-3 6-2
James Blake took the No. 1 spot when an injured Andy Roddick pulled from DC this weekend, and unfortunately, he couldn’t make good. Both he and Mardy Fish lost excruciating five setters on Friday, which – at over 8 hours of play – became one of the longest days in Davis Cup history. The Bryan Brothers’ victory on Saturday only served to give Blake another crushing memory as he lost the fourth rubber to a scary-good Marin Cilic.
James Blake indicated that he couldn’t handle the pressure when he complained about the “hostile” behavior of the Croatian crowd on Friday:
“To boo our fans is something I find unacceptable. . . To clap when I miss a first serve and things like that on a pretty consistent basis seems pretty hostile to me.” (via daviscup.com)
Uh, James, you did realize you were playing Davis Cup, right?
Bob Bryan scored the second point for Team USA in the dead fifth rubber.
CROATIA vs USA scores:
R1 – I.KARLOVIC (CRO) def. J.BLAKE (USA): 6-7(5) 4-6 6-3 7-6(3) 7-5
R2 – M.CILIC (CRO) def. M.FISH (USA): 4-6 6-3 6-7(3) 6-1 8-6
R3 – B.BRYAN / M.BRYAN (USA) def. R.KARANUSIC / L.ZOVKO (CRO): 6-3 6-1 6-3
R4 – M.CILIC (CRO) def. J.BLAKE (USA): 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-2
R5 – B.BRYAN (USA) def. R.KARANUSIC (CRO): 5-7 6-3 7-6(4)
Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich secured the third crucial point in their doubles match against Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn on Saturday, taking Israel into the Davis Cup semis for the first time in history.
From Israel’s team captain Eyal Ran:
“I actually can’t describe how I feel. I am so proud to be an Israeli today, to be a part of this team, so proud to be part of this sport and Davis Cup tennis.” (via JTA)
This is yet another disappointing pre-retirement result for Marat Safin, who helped usher Team Russia to Davis Cup glory in 2002 and 2006. Not that losing makes him any less photogenic:
ISRAEL vs. RUSSIA scores:
R1 – H.LEVY (ISR) def. I.ANDREEV (RUS): 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2
R2 – D.SELA (ISR) def. M.YOUZHNY (RUS): 3-6 6-1 6-0 7-5
R3 – J.ERLICH / A.RAM (ISR) def. I.KUNITSYN / M.SAFIN (RUS): 6-3 6-4 6-7(3) 4-6 6-4
R4 – I.ANDREEV (RUS) def. D.SELA (ISR): 4-3 – Retired
R5 – H.LEVY (ISR) def. I.KUNITSYN (RUS): 6-4 4-6 7-6(2)
We learned a few things from this tie in Marbella, Spain. First of all, Spain knows how to fill a tennis stadium:
Second, Philipp Kohlschreiber is having a great year. After beating Novak Djokovic in the French and taking Roger to four sets at Wimbledon, the German won both his rubbers on clay in Spain. His second match was a must-win five set victory over Fernando Verdasco on Sunday to even the tie 2-all.
But 29-year-old Juan Carlos Ferrero is having an even better 2009. He last played Davis Cup in 2005 and was subbed in for Tommy Robredo at the last minute on Sunday, but he proved that he’s still player enough to win live fifth rubbers: “It’s amazing what I felt on court today,” he said after taking out Andreas Beck in straights.
Also amazing, how well the Spanish do group celebrations. Even without Rafael Nadal, they pull off sexy-crows’ feet and tussled, sweaty hair better than any other team:
Speaking of sexy Spaniards, Antonio Banderas is a fan:
SPAIN vs. GERMANY scores:
R1 – F.VERDASCO (ESP) def. A.BECK (GER): 6-0 3-6 6-7(4) 6-2 6-1
R2 – P.KOHLSCHREIBER (GER) def. T.ROBREDO (ESP): 6-3 6-4 6-4
R3 – F.LOPEZ / F.VERDASCO (ESP) def. N.KIEFER / M.ZVEREV (GER): 6-3 7-6(1) 6-7(6) 6-3
R4 – P.KOHLSCHREIBER (GER) def. F.VERDASCO (ESP): 6-4 6-2 1-6 2-6 8-6
R5 – J.FERRERO (ESP) def. A.BECK (GER): 6-4 6-4 6-4
The Davis Cup excitement continues in September’s semifinals. Spain will host Israel and Croatia will host the Czech Republic.
All photos via Daylife