Another day in Hamburg, another Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals Group Stage clash determined by doubles, and once again Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz were the toast of Germany after sealing their nation’s place in the Final 8. The result also means Australia is heading to Malaga.
Krawietz and Puetz have been in potent form this week and chalked up their seventh successive Davis Cup victory as a pair – they remain unbeaten in their respective Davis Cup careers – after dispatching Belgian duo Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5).
It was far from plain sailing; in fact it was tense and nerve-jangling but also spellbinding. In the final-set tiebreak, Krawietz and Puetz had trailed 3-1 and then 5-2 before finding a way to win.
But this was a tie that went the distance in every sense after former world No. 7 David Goffin breathed new life into Belgium’s Group C campaign, recovering from a set down to dispatch Germany’s Oscar Otte.
Goffin’s heroics in hauling Belgium level followed the continued resurgence of Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated an enterprising Zizou Bergs to ensure Germany made a powerful start to proceedings.
Germany’s triumph not only confirms its own place in the Final 8, which will be contested in Malaga from 22-27 November, but also that of Australia, while Sunday’s showdown between the two nations will decide the group winner.
It has been a dream to play the Group Stage in front of a home crowd
“Nights like this will live long in the memory,” said Germany captain Michael Kohlmann. “I am so delighted. We got to the latter stages of last year's competition and when we started this year, our goal was to get to the Final 8.
“After we beat Brazil in March, we learned that we would play the Group Stage in Germany, which was a big thing for everyone: players, staff and the federation here in Hamburg. It has been a dream to play the Group Stage in front of a home crowd.
“It is always special to play Davis Cup ties at home. The last time we played at home was against Belarus in Dusseldorf in 2020 and it was a great atmosphere there and it was the same here.
“As I say, I am delighted. We had a couple of injuries before the Group Stage and a couple of question marks over how we would team up, but now I am proud that we got over these obstacles. I am now looking forward to Sunday and playing to win the group.”
Defeat means that Belgium’s chances of reaching the Final 8 are over, although they were teetering on the brink much earlier when Goffin was facing defeat against Otte before instigating a revival.
The 31-year-old held his nerve during a second-set tiebreak before flexing his muscles in the third to prevail 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-3. Having barely laid a glove on Australia’s Alex de Minaur on Tuesday, this was vintage Goffin – a player who so often reserves his best form for Davis Cup.
In the tie’s opening singles match, it required an enthralling tiebreak in the second set for Struff to finally shrug off Bergs, having won a fluctuating first set which required six games for a player hold their serve.
Following his success against Benjamin Bonzi in Germany’s opening Group C tie against France, Struff has now won back-to-back matches at the same event for only the second time this season.
It has proven a frustrating campaign for Struff, with a foot injury and subsequent indifferent form seeing the 32-year-old slip to No. 132 in the world rankings, having been a top 30 player in 2020. He would appear, however, to be re-finding his groove.