Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra arrived on court expecting a reversal against a committed Spanish team that was represented by Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez. But inspired by the noisy support from home fans the French duo played a remarkable game of doubles to draw away from the Spanish who were finding it difficult to work as a team. Barely an hour into the doubles rubber, the French wrapped up the first two sets, for the loss of just three games. And when they raced away to a 4-2 lead in the third set, the semi-final spot was almost a few fingers away from their grasp.
France and Czech Republic through to Davis Cup Semi-finals; Argentina on the brink of an upset victory
Davis Cup Quarter-finals Friday Wrap: French keep the Spanish under check; Argentina and Czech Republic spring surprises
On the first day of the Davis Cup quarter-finals the wonderful dynamics of team competition came to the fore - the French made the most of playing at home by taking a 2-0 lead against the mighty Spanish; the 153rd ranked David Nalbandian found inspiration in his national colours to defeat world number six Nikolay Davydenko and give Argentina a fighting chance in Moscow; Czech players made the absence of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek irrelevant by overcoming the challenge of playing away from home on the slow Chilean clay to take an unexpected 2-0 lead. The Balkan neighbours refused to cede any ground in their battle for supremacy in Split - Croatia and Serbia split the first two rubbers to keep it tight and even.
David Ferrer has already played 50 matches this year, winning 38 of them. When he took the first three games against Gael Monfils, it felt as though he would lead Spain to a solid start despite the surface and partisan noises favouring the French. Monfils took time to get to the party, but when he did he won 9 of the next twelve games and the tie break in between to jump ahead by a set and 3-0 in the second. He won the second set for the loss of just two games. Ferrer though refused to give up, fighting his way back into the match, one game at a time. Ferrer improved his first serve percentage dramatically in the third and fourth sets to even the rubber.
The draw for the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs, to be held from 17-19 September, was announced on Tuesday.
India, one of the eight seeded teams in the draw will host Brazil. The two countries have met twice before, each picking up a win. Their first meeting was way back in 1966 when India, with the help of Ramanathan Krishnan, Jaideep Mukerjea and S.P.Misra, beat Brazil 3-2 in a thrilling encounter. The second meeting was in 1991 when Brazill got their own back, winning comfortably 4-1.
The World Group Play-offs to be played from 17th to 19th of September will decide the eight countries that will make it to Davis Cup's elite World Group for the year 2011. The Play-offs will be played between the first round losers of the World Group 2010 (Switzerland, Germany, India, Sweden, Ecuador, United States, Israel and Belgium) and winners of the Group 1Â second roundÂ completed this weekend (Brazil, Columbia, Australia, Kazakhstan, Italy, South Africa, Austria and Romania).
From the 7th - 9th of May, six Group 1Â second round tiesÂ were conducted. By Saturday the 8th of May, four of those six ties had found winners, with Brazil, Italy, Australia and South Africa all having taken commanding 3-0 leads over their opponents, thereby sealing their places for the Play-offs. However two ties remained alive on Sunday which included the ones between China and Kazakhstan and Ukraine and Romania.
Growing up as a young tennis enthusiast the bedtime stories of heroes my family fed me at night weren't from Wimbledon or the US Open, but from the magical land of the Davis Cup where personal pride took a backseat to playing for the country. It is and shall always remain alongside the Olympics the one dream that any tennis player will want to come true.
The Davis Cup though has sadly been going through a period of decline, with a lot of senior pros passing it over in their sporting calendars. In the golden age, players carrying injuries would rather miss two weeks of the tour rather than disappoint their nation by not turning up for the flagship event. Such days are now long gone, and the pros in an attempt to keep the tradition of a team event alive are looking for a new avatar to replace the century old former extravaganza.
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