The 2015 Davis Cup quarterfinals were held across the world during July 17-19. As usual, they provided drama, comebacks, upsets, and promise. There was a country crumbling without its injured top players, and a heroic performance by a two-time Major champion playing his last season. There were two brothers carrying the hopes of a country on their shoulders, and a country getting closer to the title it has never won but so desperately wants. It was a great week for the sport of tennis, no matter who was playing.
Middelkerke, Belgium: Injury-riddled No. 8 Canada loses to Belgium. Canada was the higher seed, but with No. 8 Milos Raonic and No. 30 Vasek Pospisil out with injuries, the Canadians were the clear underdogs. Belgium, led by No. 14 David Goffin, had absolutely no trouble. They dropped only two sets on the way to a 5-0 sweep, allowing Belgium to advance to its first semifinal since 1999.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: No. 5 Argentina knocks out Djokovic-less No. 4 Serbia. Without Serbia’s World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the lineup, Serbia and Argentina looked to be pretty evenly matched. It looked like things would be going down to the fifth match on Sunday, but then Delbonis happened. Argentina won the first match of the day but Viktor Troicki looked to have Serbia right back in it when he won the first two sets against the Argentine. Then a Wimbledon flashback occurred: Just as he had done in the fourth round against Pospisil, Troicki couldn’t finish the job, and Delbonis scored a huge comeback win and a massive blow to Serbia’s hopes of getting through without their No. 1 player. Argentina took a surprisingly easy three-set win in the doubles on Saturday, and advanced to their first semifinal since 2013.
Darwin, Australia: Australia’s youth drop the ball, but the veterans save the day. Australia seemed to have a bright future in Davis Cup at the beginning of the year, but those hopes have taken a bit of a hit lately. Australian No. 1 Bernard Tomic got kicked off the team and then managed to get himself arrested in Miami, Florida, a few days before competition began. Nick Kyrgios carries drama wherever he goes. Aussie Captain Wally Masur, eye firmly on the future, went with his young stars in the first two matches: No. 41 Nick Kyrgios, and No. 69 Thanasi Kokkinakis. They managed to win one set between them. Australia was suddenly staring at a 0-2 hole. Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt teamed up to win the doubles point, and now Masur had a decision to make: youth or experience. He went with experience. He ditched Australia’s future for the time being and sent out Groth for the first match. It was very close and a few points would have changed the outcome but Groth gutted out a hard-fought four-set victory to tie everything up at 2-2. Then Lleyton Hewitt took the court. His ranking has dropped to No. 279, and it looked like Australia might be heading home early. But never count out Hewitt. In what could have been his 77th and final Davis Cup match, Hewitt took a first set tiebreak and never looked back, winning in straight sets and sending Australia to their first semifinal since 2006.
London, England: Standing on the shoulders of Murrays. The No. 1 team in the world, France, with its loaded lineup and Davis Cup experience, had to be thinking this year was going to be the year they finally lifted (or sat on it, actually, since it’s so huge) the Davis Cup for the 10th time, and for the first time since 2001. After splitting the first two matches, Great Britain’s captain Leon Smith decided to go with Andy and Jaime Murray. It was a big gamble but the Brits absolutely needed this doubles match to have a chance. The Murray brothers came through. Jaime, with his world doubles ranking of No. 20 and a recent runner-up finish in the men’s doubles at Wimbledon, led the way and played some inspired tennis to grab the win after dropping the first set. Suddenly, Great Britain had a 2-1 lead and only needing a win by Andy Murray over Gilles Simon on Sunday to beat France for the first time since 1978. Simon had been playing very well lately, with a quarterfinal finish at Wimbledon. For the first two sets, Simon played brilliantly and Murray was tentative, no doubt feeling all the pressure from his home country on his shoulders. With Simon up a set and leading 4-1 in the second set tiebreak, things looked a bit bleak for Great Britain. Then Murray gritted his teeth and somehow, someway took the second set tiebreak. With that behind him, he started playing much better and Simon was the one who became tentative. Murray quickly wrapped up the match in four sets. The enormous pressure finally got to Murray and he broke down on court-side after the match. One thing is for certain: if Great Britain actually wins the Davis Cup this year, they had better send Mama Judy Murray a trophy of her own.
The semifinals of the 2015 Davis Cup will be on September 18-19, with Great Britain hosting Australia, and Belgium hosting Argentina.
Cover Photo (Creative Commons License): elPadawan