Czech Republic d. Kazahkstan 3-1
No Berdych, no problem for the Czech Republic, as Lukas Rosol and Jan Hajek led their team to a confident victory over Kazakhstan on the road. The Czechs won all 3 singles rubbers, including a pair of 4 set wins by Rosol over Andrey Golubev and Evgeny Korolev. Hajek won the 1st rubber over Mikhail Kukushkin but the Kazaks were able to extend the tie into Sunday by winning the saturday doubles rubber with Yuriy Schukin and Golubev over Radek Stepanek and Hajek. A dead 5th rubber was not played.
Argentina d. France 3-2
Argentina stepped up big to upset France with it all coming down to a 5th rubber. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga got the French off to a good start with a win over Carlos Berlocq in 5 close sets, but Juan Monaco fired back with a straight sets win over a hobbled Gilles Simon. In the 3rd doubles rubber, David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos teamed up to take out Julian Benneteau and Michael Llodra (who produced some Google worthy antics of his own). On Sunday, Tsonga rolled over Monaco to keep the French in it, but it was Berlocq who would come up big clinching the tie over Gilles Simon in 4 sets.
Argentina will meet the defending champs the Czech Republic next round.
Serbia d. USA 3-1
The US DC team just didn’t have enough to beat Serbia this time. Novak Djokovic got a pair of wins, the first over John Isner and the latter a tie-clinching 4th rubber win over Sam Querrey. Against Querrey, Djokovic rolled on his ankle very early in the 1st set and was hobbled considerably throughout the match, but still dispatched a collapsing Querrey easily enough. Querrey did beat Viktor Troicki in 5 sets in the 2nd rubber.
The real key may well have been the doubles rubber as Nenad Zimonjic and the unheralded Illija Bozoljac toppled the Bryan Brothers 15-13 in the 5th set in a record setting US DC doubles match. A dead 5th rubber was not played.
Canada d. Italy 3-1
Canada rode their rocket Milos Raonic to the Davis Cup semis with Raonic winning both his singles rubbers, including the clinching 4th rubber over Andreas Seppi. This was preceded by a win over Fabio Fognini on Friday. Also coming up big were Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil who won the doubles rubber over Daniele Bracciali and Fognini 15-13 in the 5th. Pospisil fell to Seppi in 5 sets in the 1st rubber, Seppi coming back from 2 sets to love down.
In other action outside the world group, into the world group playoffs are Great Britain, who shocked Russia 3-2 and came back from 0-2 down after Friday singles. They needed a massive performance from futures level player Dan Evans, who has a noted history of showing up big in Davis Cup. Evans won the key 5th rubber after losing a 5 set 1st rubber against Dmitry Tursunov. James Ward also helped the comeback with a 5 set win over Dmitry Tursunov in the 4th rubber after losing his 1st singles match against Evgeny Donskoy in 5 sets.
Poland beat South Africa 3-1, while Ukraine had a bit of trouble against a pesky Swedish team but did manage to get the job done 3-2. The Netherlands also blanked Romania 5-0.
Japan beat Korea 3-2, Australia got past Uzbekistan 3-1, Colombia whitewashed Uruguay 5-0, and Ecuador toppled Chile 3-2. All those winning teams will also be in the playoffs against the various losing teams of the World Group 1st round.
As for the DC dream team of the week, Evans, Bozolijac, Nestor and Berlocq with Rosol and Raonic as alternates would make quite a formidable DC team.
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The stars of men’s tennis, along with some of the lesser known players, will put on the national colors once again. The opening round of the Davis Cup begins its 2013 edition this weekend. Here is a preview of all the world group weekend action.
Canada vs. Spain
The defending finalists and normally DC dominant Spanish will have a much weaker armada and will have to head to Vancouver to take on a strong-looking Canuck team in a tie ripe for a surprise. The Spanish had Nicolas Almagro withdraw from the tie this week, replaced by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He will be complemented by Marcel Granollers, Albert Ramos and doubles specialist Marc Lopez, with the M&M’s Granollers and Lopez forming the core of the doubles team.
The Canadians counter with AO quarterfinalist Milos Raonic (who was nursing a bit of an injury from AO but should be ready to go), Vasek Pospisil (who hasn’t played any since last year and withdrew from a couple of January events), Frank Dancevic, (who made the quarters of the competitive Heilbronn Challenger, an event also on indoor hard courts), and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor.
The Spanish still have the rankings advantage, but the Canadians get home court advantage and home surface advantage on indoor hard. Ramos is slumping, and Pospisil hasn’t played. Seriously, this tie could come down to the doubles rubber.
The Pick: Spain
Italy vs. Croatia
Italy gets home advantage on indoor clay in Turin as AO 4th rounder Andreas Seppi, along with Fabio Fognini, Paolo Lorenzi and Simone Bolelli, all top 80 players, will take on the Croats. Croatia is led by Marin Cilic and his teammates Ivan Dodig, Antonio Veic and Mate Pavic.
Italy will have not only home advantage, but also performance advantage as all of their players are solid consistent clay courters and Seppi just beat Cilic in Melbourne. Ivan Dodig may grab a rubber, but otherwise things don’t look good for Croatia, who have two players ranked outside the top 130 on their squad.
The Pick: Italy
Belgium vs. Serbia
This will be a tie worth watching as the young David Goffin and his teammates Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans and the veteran Olivier Rochus have home court advantage on the red clay of Charleroi, Belgium. They will take on the dominant Novak Djokovic, and the solid Serbian supporting cast of Viktor Troicki and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic. Janko Tipsarevic has withdrawn.
Rochus and Goffin also enjoy spending time on the golf course.
Belgium coach Johan Van Herck will have his work cut out for him as there are few weaknesses in this Serbian side and the Belgians may struggle to win a rubber in this tie. A big advantage goes to Serbia.
The Pick: Serbia
USA vs. Brazil
On indoor hard at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, the red, white and blue are lead by a hopefully fresh John Isner, Sam Querrey and the AO champion Bryan Brothers. Team USA will face a tough tie against the flamboyant Brazilians who are lead by top 35 player Thomaz Bellucci along with Thiago Alves and the doubles team of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares, who are accomplished in their own right.
The Americans still look to have the advantage here, especially because of surface, assuming that Isner’s knee is ok. As long as they win the doubles rubber, Querrey and Isner should be counted on to grab the rubbers needed and advance the USA to the next round.
The Pick: USA
France vs. Israel
On indoor hard in Rouen, France, Les Bleus, headed by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet along with Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra will take on Israel, led by the veteran Dudi Sela. Alongside him will be doubles specialists Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram. The other core of the Israeli team, Amir Weintraub, is dealing with a leg infection and may or may not play. His replacement would be an unranked player. This is a big blow to the Israeli team.
This is a very lopsided tie as the French are stacked with two top 20 and three top 40 singles players, while the Israelis don’t have either singles player ranked in the top 110. On a side note, the French are now coached by former pro Arnaud Clement.
The Pick: France
Argentina vs. Germany
In a rematch of last year’s DC tie, Argentina will look to advance on the home clay of the Parque Roca in Buenos Aires over Germany. The Argentines are lead by Juan Monaco along with Horacio Zeballos, Carlos Berlocq and the old DC grinder David Nalbandian. Germany counters with Phillip Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer, Tobias Kamke and doubles specialist Christopher Kas. Both sides have different squads compared to last year and the Argentines will most notably be missing Juan Martin Del Potro.
This tie could go either way, as Monaco is not in the greatest form and Nalbandian has not played since last August. Meanwhile, Berlocq and Zeballos will be adjusting to the change in surface.
Kohlschreiber is solid on all surfaces for Germany, while Mayer is usually competitive on clay and Kamke can be inconsistent. I have a feeling Germany will get revenge here.
The Pick: Germany
Austria vs. Kazakhstan
At the national tennis center in Astana on red clay, Kazakhstan will seek to advance to the next round of the DC world group with a team that consists of Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev, Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin. Austria will counter with the reliable Jurgen Melzer, a struggling Andreas Haider-Maurer, Julian Knowle and doubles specialist Alexander Peya.
Both teams have reasonable shots to win this tie, as both are made up of basically challenger level players who have done better in the past, excluding the ATP level Melzer and Peya. It really comes down to which team is more motivated and shows up, but because the Kazaks have the home advantage, I will give them the slight edge.
The Pick: Kazakhstan
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic
The Swiss are lead by the now memorable Stan Wawrinka, with Marco Chiudinelli, Michael Lammer and Henri Laaksonen behind him. They’ll take on defending DC champs Czech Republic on indoor hard in Geneva.
The Czechs have the same core team of Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol back, while Radek Stepanek had to pull out with a back injury and has been replaced by Ivo Minar. Also returning are Jiri Vesely and coach Jaroslav Navratil. Though they are away from home for this tie they will still have a slight edge, Wawrinka aside, look for them to stay in the hunt to repeat.
The Pick: Czech Republic
Notable action outside of the World Group:
Asia/Oceania Group 1: The Aussies, led by Lleyton Hewitt and Matt Ebden, take on Taiwan on hard courts in Taiwan, while the Japanese, with Go Soeda and Tatsuma Ito, get a home tie on hard against Indonesia.
Europe/Africa Group 1: Poland, with Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot will take on Grega Zemlja, Aljaz Bedene and marathon man Blaz Kavic of Slovenia in a tie worth checking out on hard courts in Wroclaw, Poland.
Ukraine will finally get the participation of Alexandr Dolgopolov, who seems to have finally resolved his dispute with the Ukrainian tennis federation. He teams up with Sergiy Stakhovsky, and they will take on Slovakia, lead by Martin Klizan and Lukas Lacko on hard courts at home.
Have fun enjoying all the national action!
Stepanek, Czechs capture the 100th Davis Cup in Prague
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The Czech Republic beat the defending champs Spain 3-2 at home in rowdy Prague to capture the 100th Davis Cup and their first Davis Cup title as an independent nation. They won in 1980 as part of Czechoslovakia and were led by Ivan Lendl at the time.
Captain Jaroslav Navratil relied on twin ligers Tomas Berdych and the tie clinching Radek Stepanek the whole way. Stepanek suffered an opening rubber loss to David Ferrer, but Berdych bounced to beat Nicolas Almagro in 5 and then Berdych and Stepanek combined to beat Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers in the doubles rubber. Ferrer won the 4thrubber over Berdych, giving him a perfect 2-0 record in the tie, but it was not enough as veteran player Radek Stepanek became the hero, closing out Nicolas Almagro in 4 sets with near perfect play. Steps was hitting target shots and rocket serves.
In addition to dethroning the Spanish Armada for the year, the Czech Republic got a perfect triple this year in winning the Hopman and Fed cups.
2012 CitiOpen Interview: Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova
Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, a doubles specialist with 17 doubles titles, is a lion on the court. She’ll also try to defend her only singles title at Quebec City after the US Open. After watching her argue calls with the Chair while banging her racquet against the metal net post in a first round singles loss to Edina Gallovits-Hall at CitiOpen on Monday, I wasn’t even sure I’d get an interview with her. Not only did I get an interview, I got the serene, happy off-court version of the woman tennis fanatics call BZS.
You had 76% of your first serves as winners in the second set. What happened in the third?
Really? It didn’t feel like it! I wasn’t playing so good the whole match. I was really tight. I was not playing my best. The third set was so fast to Love-2. I played pretty good, but she passed me at the net. I didn’t really believe that I can pull it through.
On opponent Edina Gallovits-Hall:
She’s a tricky player. She puts every ball in the court and you have to be really focused and you have to play really aggressive. That’s what I was trying to do, but if you don’t believe that you can do it, it’s tough to win the matches.
Your doubles partner, Iveta Benesova, is also in singles in DC. Why aren’t you two playing in doubles?
We’re not playing because we’re playing in Montreal next week in qualies. We don’t want to miss the qualies. We were thinking if we play doubles (here), maybe we could go through! That’s why we aren’t playing here.
What do you think of Washington, despite losing your match to a member of the Washington Kastles?
I was thinking about it. It doesn’t feel like I’m in the States. It’s feels so clean. It reminds me of Europe a lot. It’s nice! I didn’t see much, but I went to the White House. The White House looks so small. On pictures, it looks really big, but if you go there and you see it, it’s small.
I interviewed Andrea Hlavackova recently and she talked about your shared home town of Plzen. What are your thoughts on Plzen?
Well, we grew up together. Her father is the one who is tasting the beer and sending it into the world. I love my hometown. It’s a small city and everybody knows each other. I grew up there and I think I’m going to stay there for the rest of my life.
How neat is it to be able to see Pilsner Urquell, your hometown’s famous beer, where ever you are in the world?
It’s great and if I order it, it reminds me of Plzen. It reminds me of home. The beer is unbelievable. I love it. I like to drink beer. Surprise! At least something is in the world that reminds me of home, because I’m never home.
Like the pop quiz I gave to Andrea Hlavackova in Charleston, do you know the four ingredients in beer?
Yeah, but I don’t know the words in English!
I’m sure you’re looking forward to the U.S. Open, having made the doubles quarterfinals there last year.
I’m looking forward, but I still have more tournaments to go before the US Open.
I love New York. My favorite city. I would live there, but we’ll see! I’m going to focus on my singles first.
Montreal, Dallas, Flushing Meadows and Quebec are the next stops on Barbora’s North American summer tour.
FAMILY CIRCLE CUP FEATURE INTERVIEW: ANDREA HLAVACKOVA
By Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
Who was that doubles specialist on Family Circle Cup’s Stadium Court who very nearly took down the world #13, Sabine Lisicki, this afternoon?
Answer: She’s not just a brewer’s daughter.
After going through the biographies of the player field at the 2012 Family Circle cup a few weeks ago, I decided that there was one player with whom I really had to speak. As a lawyer, beer lover, alcohol regulator and tennis fan, Andrea Hlavackova was the natural choice for me. She’s in law school and has a deep family brewing heritage. That would be interesting enough if she weren’t also a Grand Slam Doubles Champion.
When I caught up with the 25 year old native of the Czech Republic on Monday, she had just defeated Irina Falconi and was looking forward to playing Sabine Lisicki in the next round.
“I don’t think I ever played (Lisicki), not even when we were younger. I’m very pumped for the match, It’s clay court, so we’re both hard court and grass court players. I have nothing to lose. I was a Lucky Loser.”
Though she is mainly known for her doubles work with ten titles, she made it clear that she’s here to compete in singles as well.
“I won a Grand Slam in doubles (2011 Roland Garros), so I guess that’s why they call me a doubles specialist. I’m top ten in doubles. I guess I am a doubles specialist, but that doesn’t make any difference with singles.”
After the tennis formalities, it was time to talk business. Beer business. I asked her about her family’s legacy with barley, yeast, water and hops.
My family was 80 years in brewing and my great-grandfather was the General Director of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery (in Plzen, CZE), my grandfather was the General Director, my father (Jan) is one of the heads there right now and he’s going to now become an External Advisor because he wants to slowly retire from it. He doesn’t have a follower in the family, so it’s kind of sad. I’m sure its tough on him right now to deal with the change in career, but he was the General Brewer.
Does she know how to make beer?
I’m not sure if I know them in English. I know the water is important, the sugar is important, the green stuff (hops) is important. I’ve been through the brewery, not because of my interests. My boyfriend was in town and his parents, so we went through the brewery, saw the process, saw the history, so I know a little bit about the process.
She’s proud of the ubiquitous beer. ”I see it in regular supermarkets!”, she said. In case you don’t know, Pilsner Urquell is one of the most famous beers in the world, and 90% of the beers consumed on the planet are based on its recipe. It’s also been around for about 170 years, and her family can lay claim to almost half of the brewery’s storied history.
How important is beer to her hometown?
Huge. Plzen is a beer city, so if you are entering Plzen, my home city, you see signs ‘Welcome to the Beer City’. The factory is huge. You have to take buses to go around it. I’m really proud of my dad. I’m entering the brewery and I’m like ‘Hlavackova’! They’re like, ‘yeah, park where your Dad’s car is, wherever’!It’s a really proud feeling.
When I won the French Open title last year, they were not talking about me. They were talking about ‘Oh, you’re the daughter of the brewer’. Yeah, finally I made something. She’s the tennis player and the daughter of the brewer, not ’she’s the daughter of the brewer’. I’m so proud of him and I had a really close relationship with my grandfather before he died so I really got to know the brewery and everything around it through him a lot, and my heart was in it through him a lot.
Hlavackova is working her way through a law degree at Plzen University.
I have two and a half years, five semesters . I had to stop because it was not possible to make it with all the travel. According to the law, I can only have four semesters off. So this winter, I have to get back into studies. I will definitely work on a special exception and get another postponement because I want to keep playing but I don’t want to lose that. If they don’t give it to me, I’ll try to combine it as much as I can.
Should we expect a judicial appointment in her next career?
I definitely want to get a degree. I’m not really planning to be a lawyer. I would like to be a journalist or something, but who knows? A law degree always helps you. It shows somebody that you were able to finish a really tough university.
You would think that her career would speak for itself on her ability to finish a tough assignment after her Grand Slam success. And today, with nothing to lose, she nearly created one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, narrowly defeated by Sabine Lisicki on Stadium Court by a count of 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.