Russia vs. Serbia
The doubles was a must-win match for the Serbians to stay alive, so despite neither player being 100%, Serbia fielded its best possible team in Novak Djokovic and top doubles player Nenad Zimonjic. On the Russian side, Mikhail Youzhny replaced Marat Safin and paired up with Dmitry Tursunov. For the first two sets, the Serbians were in control of the match, but it got much tougher in the third set as the affects of their virus caught up to Djokovic and Zimonjic – after the match Zimonjic would say they were just trying to “survive” during the third set. In fact, the Russian served for that set at 6*-5, but they didn’t and the Serbians went on to win the tiebreaker, allowing their team to try to fight back on Sunday. After the match, Djokovic said he did feel somewhat better but not 100% and did not know if he would be able to come out on Sunday to play Davydenko.
Czech Republic vs Belgium
With their top two singles players, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek , back on court today for doubles, the Czech Republic clinched its spot in the World Group Quarterfinals with a marathon 5-set win that spanned almost 4 and a half hours. In a see-saw affair, the Czechs served for the first set but ultimately lost it in a tiebreaker. It was an interesting move by the Czechs to stick with their singles players instead of Dlouhy and Vizner, two excellent doubles players on the team. Down a set and a break to the Belgians Kristof Vliegen and Olivier Rochus, the Czechs made a fine comeback, taking the second set also in a tiebreaker. The match continued this back and forth progression through the fifth set, where the Belgians let slip an early break point only to lose it 6-4 in the end, sending the Czechs through to the Quarters.
Argentina vs Great Britain
The only real news we have here is that Great Britain finally made a set close, really close! The British team of Ross Hutchins and doubles specialist Jamie Murray were able to push David Nalbandian and Jose Acasuso to a 13-11 second set tiebreaker. They even had at least one set point in that tiebreaker to give themselves their first set of the whole tie but were unable to convert. Of course then they were bageled in the third, but at least Britain made one set close… So, the Argentines breeze through to the quarterfinals
Israel vs Sweden
Coming off their historical first Grand Slam title, it was up to Israelis Erlich and Ram to give Israel an all-important advantage going into Sunday’s singles tie, and they did not disappoint their home crowd. Starting off well and getting out to an early 3-0 lead, the Israelis were in control from the start. Excellent doubles in their own right, Sweden’s Aspelin and Lindstedt were able to keep the match close despite the straight-sets score. So Israel will head into tomorrow’s reverse singles with a 2-1 advantage and two very interesting matches on Sunday with Sela facing Thomas Johansson first up.
Germany vs Korea
Not a whole lot to say here as Korea interestingly did not play its top player Hyung-Taik Lee and instead played two relative unknowns in Jun and An. The German pairing of Philipps – Kohlschreiber and Petzschner – easily dispatched the Korean team, giving the Germans a 2-1 lead going into tomorrow. The first reverse singles match will pit Kohlschreiber against Lee, which should be an interesting encounter.
Peru vs Spain
After pulling out of yesterday’s opening singles match with an injury, Peru’s only notable player, Luis Horna, managed to suit up for the doubles. Playing with Ivan Miranda, however, the team was still outclassed by a stronger Spanish team – Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez – two singles players who still have excellent doubles prowess. Although the match was a straight-setter for the Spaniards, the third set was tight and went to a tiebreaker, which the Spaniards ultimately won. With the win, Spain wrapped up its victory and sails through to the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Peru can still be satisfied that it got to play in the World Group at all in the first place, and it now will look to a World Group Playoff match in September, where it will have to play for the right to be in the World Group next year.
Romania vs France
Hoping to keep themselves alive and also hoping to repeat their surprise upset of the same French team – Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra – in the same round in Davis Cup play, Mergea and Tecau started slowly, losing serve in the opening game and blowing a 30-0 lead at 4*-5 in the second to lose the first two sets. but fought bravely to come back and win the next two to send the match to a deciding fifth set. In the third set, the Romanians were able to save some crucial break points to force a tiebreaker. And at 5all in the tiebreaker, Llodra, who was the better player of the two throughout the match, gave his partner the chances to end the match on his serve but he missed a volley and allowed the Romanians back into it. Looking like they had all the momentum, the R0manians had a chance to break early in the fifth but were unable to convert and from then on the French eased to victory and to a 3-0 sweep to the Quarterfinals where they will play away in the US.
Austria vs USA
And to the bottom of the draw, which actually provided the first team to move through to the quarterfinals after the Bryan twins put on a dazzling display of doubles tennis to easily win what was, on paper, a difficult matchup for them, to sen the US team to the quarterfinals. Getting off to a flawless start, the Bryans took the opening set 6-1 behind some incredible volleying and returning. As the match wore on, it became more and more apparent that Melzer was still feeling the effects of his marathon against Roddick yesterday; the Bryans noticed this and started targeting him more and more to the point where, by the end of the second set, he could barely make a volley. After the match, the Austrians fully admitted they were simply beaten by two guys playing amazing tennis. And so, what more is there to say?
So, like they have done so many other times, the Bryans wrapped up their match easily in the third set and assured the defending champion Americans a place in the Quarterfinals, which will be held at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The fact that the US wrapped up the tie today brings extra good news. Word from fans at the tie is that Roddick tweaked his knee at least once on the holey clay surface yesterday and that he was limping today on the sidelines; apparently, Blake was experiencing some back trouble as well. Luckily with the tie wrapped up, both of the Bryans can come out and play in their place tomorrow for the best-of-three set dead rubbers. And of course, hopefully Roddick and Blake aren’t hurt too badly.