Dutch duo Botic van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor capped the perfect week in Glasgow with their third win of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals, defeating USA before the doubles to secure top spot in Group D.
Netherlands arrived at the Emirates Arena as the fourth-ranked Davis Cup nation in Group D, but after opening with victory over Kazakhstan on Tuesday, Paul Haarhuis’s side posted the nation’s first victories over both Great Britain and USA, the Americans knowing before today’s tie that both they and the Dutch were through to the Final 8.
"It's been an amazing week," Netherlands captain Haarhuis said after a third 2-1 win. "We came here with the goal to be one of the top two teams, then qualify for Malaga. We knew we had a chance at it.
"But to do that, two out of three every match, it's just amazing. I'm very proud of their level. I'm very proud of their achievements. I'm very proud of the energy they brought to the court in doing so. It was really a team effort. The guys who played, they rose to the occasion."
Central to Netherlands’ success has been world No.35 Van de Zandschulp, who posted his third singles win of the week with an impressive 6-4, 7-6(3) triumph over Taylor Fritz, the world No.12, to settle the tie.
The court speed in Glasgow has been the subject of debate all week, with Fritz declaring them the “slowest conditions I’ve ever played in in my life” as he committed to being more patient on court.
For Van de Zandschulp, however, the court has played into his hands perfectly, allowing him to play behind his booming serve and zero in his returns to get on top in the rallies early. But it was the Dutchman under pressure early on, fending off four break points to stay on serve at 2-2.
Our fans are incredible, they’re making enough noise for the whole stadium – we love them and we’re so proud to play for them
Fritz had been cruising through his service games until at 4-4 he slipped down 15-40. He got back to deuce but couldn’t hold out, Van de Zandchulp breaking before serving out the opener, then breaking again to open the second set.
With the tie slipping away and the momentum with Van de Zandschulp, Fritz deserves credit for hitting back to level up at 2-2 and staying solid until the tiebreak. But the Dutchman’s combinations proved too effective, an inch-perfect lob bringing him to match point shortly before he wrapped up victory to the delight of the fans singing his name.
"We’ve had an amazing week together," Van de Zandschulp said. "Not everyone expected we would be No.1, but we played some great tennis. I played to a really good level this week – the last couple of months I’ve had difficulty finding my level and I think it’s coming back."
As for the fans' new song for him, he added: "First time I’ve heard that one! I hope we see these guys in Malaga."
Earlier, Griekspoor claimed his second win of the week in Glasgow with a 7-5, 7-6(3) victory over Tommy Paul.
The world No.48 bounced back impressively after Friday’s defeat by Dan Evans. With power in abundance from the baseline at both ends of the court, it was the world No.48’s relentless intensity that ground down Paul’s resistance late in the opening set.
The American rallied to avoid falling victim to an early break at the start of the second, fending off four break points before looking to capitalise on a pair of double faults from the Dutchman at 1-2, only to see four chances of his own slip by.
Serves held strong until Griekspoor again raised his game at 5-5, a drop shot and two blistering returns taking him to 15-40. Paul, bothered by discomfort in his left leg, hunkered down to hold.
It was a brief reprieve. A couple of wayward forehands and an attempted between-the-legs volley in the ensuing tiebreak from the American put Griekspoor 5-0 in front, and Paul’s race was run, Griekspoor clinching victory in one hour, 53 minutes.
"Tommy played well – hell of a player, and again it was close as when we played the last time," Griekspoor said.
“Last night we enjoyed a lot – we never thought we would be qualified after two ties, so the message today was to go out there, have fun and enjoy ourselves. Our fans are incredible, they’re making enough noise for the whole stadium – we love them and we’re so proud to play for them.”
Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock collected a consolation win for the Americans in the doubles, fighting back to beat Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 to make the final score in the tie 2-1.
"This court is a great court for ball striking," USA stand-in captain Bob Bryan said after the tie. "The tennis has been spectacular. And I was happy to be up close to this stuff because the bar keeps getting raised higher and higher in this sport that we love.
"We're going to have to actually improve to probably raise this [Davis] Cup, but we have guys that are hungry, and I'm looking forward to see what they can do in Malaga. Tommy went toe to toe with Tallon though, and that could have gone either way... I'm proud of our team."