The Colombians transformed a Bogota bullring into a tennis court for their Davis Cup play-off vs. Team USA this weekend. And it was a fight! Colombia was playing for a first-time spot in the World Group and Team USA – without Andy Roddick or the Bryan Brothers – was fighting to avoid dropping out of this elite group for the first time since 1988. Mardy Fish, who won his singles and doubles rubbers on Friday and Satruday, had the chance to clinch the tie for the US in Sunday’s fourth rubber. But Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo didn’t make it easy. The American needed four hours and five sets to win the match 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 8-6, coming back from a break down in the fifth. Note his exhausted expression and bloody knee:
Photo by GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
It was fun watching some clay court slogging after all the hard court action this summer. Not fun: listening to Justin Gimelstob’s gushy commentary on Tennis Channel. I was actually feeling a little embarrassed for Ted Robinson.
Where’s Roger? Team Switzerland, captained by Federer’s coach Severin Luthi and led this weekend by Federer’s Olympic doubles partner, Stanislas Wawrinka, is now out of the World Group for only the second time in 15 years. They were swept away, 0-5, by Team Kazakhstan, led by Andrey Golubev. There were a few more “bagels” in the playoffs – Romania over Ecuador and Germany over South Africa – but the most shocking wash out of the weekend came in the semifinals.
Team France thrashed Team Argentina, 5-0 in Lyon. Sure, the French were playing at home on indoor hardcourts with a solid team, but the Argentines had David Nalbandian. David, the guy who came back from injury to almost single handedly beat the Russian in the quarterfinals. David, the guy who says that Davis Cup is more important than any Major. David, the guy who smacks down any team member who feels different. But David – one of the best returners in the game – couldn’t hold his own against Gael Monfils and the 27 aces the Frenchman served during Friday’s second rubber – Llodra had already won the opener vs. Juan Monaco – and any hope Team Argentina had of a come back was squelched by the experienced doubles team of Llodra/Clement on Saturday.
I missed this, somehow – did you know that Wimbledon doubles champions and drinking buddies Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra, had been feuding recently? Via the AP:
Llodra and Clement quickly found back a sound understanding on the court after earlier this year.
“We got together with my mate Arnaud,” the 30-year-old Llodra said. “We are like wine, we get better with age.”
Glad they patched things up.
The French show some flare in celebration. Oh, Gael. . .Jo-Wilfried looks concerned:
It wasn’t a walk in the Bois de Boulogne for Team Serbia, who hosted the Czech Republic in Belgrade in the other semifinal of the weekend. Novak Djokovic didn’t play on Friday, needing more time to recover from the US Open final, and the visitors held a 2-1 advantage going into Sunday’s play. Things were looking bleak for the home team, as Tomas Berdych went up a set against Nole in the fourth rubber. DavisCup.com describes the intensity of this weekend’s “Battle of Wounded Knee”:
But then drama struck midway through the second set. With Djokovic at 15-30 serving at 2-2, Berdych crunched a forehand which seemed certain to go for a winner. With the Czech fans already cheering, Djokovic made a miraculous recovery, scooping up a defensive forehand to drop the ball at Berdych’s feet. Berdych netted the volley, and the Serbs cheered. Djokovic suddenly punched the air – somewhat in the direction of the Czech fans – and the crowd went wild. The fuse had been lit.
Four points later Djokovic had held serve for 3-2, and the Belgrade Arena was on fire. As he ran out to receive at 2-3, the temperature was red-hot as 16,000 home fans got behind their hero. Perhaps because of the heat, Djokovic lunged for a Berdych smash that was pretty much a hopeless cause, stumbled and landed on his right knee. He ended up motionless on his right side in the corner of the playing area.
When he didn’t get up, Serbia’s captain Bogdan Obradovic and the umpire Cedric Mourier ran over to check him out. They called for the Serbian team physio. Suddenly, the spectacle that had just caught light was in danger of extinguishing itself right there. As Djokovic was helped to his chair to have his knee bandaged, Radek Stepanek came out of the locker room, mindful that the Czechs might be about to celebrate their passage to December’s final if Djokovic would have to retire.
But Nole didn’t retire, and – with Berdych’s rhythm interrupted – he found a way to win the match in four sets.
“I felt sleepy in the first set but it didn’t last long,” Djokovic said (via BBC). “I woke up when I fell but fortunately I was not hurt and I felt a volcano of energy coming from the fans.”
Nole’s heroics gave Janko Tipsarevic the chance to be the big hero of the tie. The second Serb scored Friday’s only point for Team Serbia, taking out Berdych in four, and would play the live fifth rubber vs. Radek Stepanek on Sunday. Janko fell to his knees after scoring match point and securing Serbia’s place in the Davis Cup finals for the first time in history. His teammates picked him up for a victory lap.
It’s going to be a fabulous Davis Cup final! Team France will travel to Serbia in December.
For more Davis Cup news and results, visit DavisCup.com