The Davis Cup Finalists Are Set, And Colombia Joins Them At Last
The former champions Serbia, Germany, Australia and Italy punched tickets to the Davis Cup finals on Saturday while Colombia silenced Sweden, a seven-time winner, to earn a shot at the trophy in its 51st attempt.
Since 1959, the determined South Americans have tried but failed to make it through to the finals. But a half-century of heartache was forgotten when Juan Sebastián Cabal and Robert Farah clinched the doubles to give Colombia an unassailable 3-0 lead in Bogotá.
Alejandro González swept aside Elias Ymer, 6-3, 6-3, as Colombia won, 4-0, with the fifth match unplayed.
Serbia, playing without the Australian Open men’s champion, Novak Djokovic, watched its 2-0 overnight lead evaporate in Tashkent as Uzbekistan roared back to send their clash to a fifth match. Denis Istomin partnered with Sanjar Fayziev for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Nikola Milojevic and Viktor Troicki in the doubles before he downed Dusan Lajovic, 6-3, 6-4, in the singles. But Filip Krajinovic picked up the decisive point by coming from behind to beat Sanjar Fayziev, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, to nail down a place for Serbia at November’s revamped finals in Madrid.
Germany, which won the last of its three titles in 1993, eased to victory over Hungary as Jan-Lennard Struff and Tim Pütz strolled to a 6-2, 6-3 doubles triumph and an unassailable 3-0 advantage. Third-ranked Alexander Zverev cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Gabor Borsos in the first reverse singles as the countries opted to play out the remaining matches in Frankfurt.
Australia rolled to a 4-0 rout of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Adelaide, as John Peers and Jordan Thompson clinched the series with a 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Mirza Basic and Tomislav Brkic in the doubles. The teenager Alexei Popyrin, in his Davis Cup debut, followed up with a 6-1, 7-6 (2) win over Nerman Fatic, while the fifth match was not played.
“After a long summer, it’s not easy for a lot of these boys, but they did absolutely everything we asked of them, to come and do all the hard work on the practice court and I’m just really thrilled that they got the result they deserved,” the Australian captain, Lleyton Hewitt, told the Davis Cup website.
Andreas Seppi guided Italy, the 1976 champion, into the finals by dispatching India, 3-1. Seppi brushed aside India’s No. 1, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, 6-1, 6-4, in the first reverse singles match on Kolkata’s grass court after India avoided a whitewash by taking the doubles. Italy, which had led, 2-0, overnight, was forced to extend the encounter after Simone Bolelli and Matteo Berrettini lost to Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6.
In Bratislava, Canada took the concluding reverse singles to see off Slovakia, 3-2. Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime had lost the doubles, but Shapovalov bounced back to overcome Martin Klizan and level the series at 2-2, with Auger-Aliassime prevailing in his winner-takes-all showdown with Norbert Gombos.
The 2014 champion, Switzerland, missing both Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, fell, 3-1, to Russia. The unheralded Swiss duo Henri Laaksonen and Jerome Kym had kept their nation’s hopes alive with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) win over Evgeny Donskoy and Andrey Rublev to trim Russia’s lead to 2-1 in Biel. But Karen Khachanov defeated Laaksonen in three sets to secure the win for Russia, which last won the competition in 2006.
Also making it into the finals were Belgium, a 3-1 winner in Brazil; Chile, which fought back from 2-1 down to topple Austria, 3-2; and the Netherlands, which beat the Czech Republic, 3-1. Earlier, Japan rallied from a 2-1 deficit as Taro Daniel won the decisive match to overcome China.
Kazakhstan is also through as Mikhail Kukushkin completed a 3-1 victory over Portugal by swatting João Sousa aside, 6-4, 6-1.
Under the new format adopted by the International Tennis Federation, the Davis Cup will be decided at a season-ending, 18-team event in November. Matches are now played in a best-of-three-set format, replacing the long-used best-of-five, with the reverse singles matches played on Saturday after the doubles, shortening the series by one day to two.
The 12 winners in qualifying this weekend will join the automatic qualifiers, Croatia, France, the United States, Spain, Argentina and Britain, at November’s finals in Madrid.