Krawietz and Puetz deliver for their nation once more as Germany reaches last eight and sets up showdown with Great Britain
Doubles pairing Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz are the toast of Germany once more after they produced a commanding display to fire their nation into the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2021.
Twenty-four hours after defeating Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Nikola Cacic in a crunch showdown, Krawietz and Puetz were at it again, dispatching Austria duo Oliver Marach and Philipp Oswald 63, 64.
The heroics of Krawietz and Puetz built on the victory of Jan-Lennard Struff, who steadied a rocking Germany by defeating Dennis Novak after Jurij Rodionov had fired Austria into a surprise lead by overcoming Dominik Koepfer.
Three-time tournament winners Germany will now face 2015 champions Great Britain in the last eight on Tuesday – a repeat of the quarter-final clash at the 2019 Finals in Madrid, which Leon Smith’s charges won.
“I am very proud,” said Germany captain Michael Kohlmann. “It wasn’t easy to come out after our big win on Saturday against one of the greatest players in the world and in the history of tennis, and that is in your head.
“We were also favourites, so that makes it more difficult. Jurij played a really good match to put Austria 1-0 up, but how we handled that, it showed what kind of team we are. We stick together whether it is running good, or whether it is running bad.
“Sticking together gave us a chance to come back and that makes me really proud. Now we have our chance to get revenge against Great Britain after losing to them in the quarter-finals two years ago.”
Krawietz, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, and Puetz were playing just their fifth match as a doubles pairing. However, there were very few signs of unfamiliarity as they surged into a 3-0 lead in the opening set before closing out proceedings, 6-3.
A break of serve midway through the second set propelled Krawietz and Puetz firmly into the ascendency, with Marach – a Grand Slam doubles winner at the Australian Open in 2018 – and Oswald having little answer.
“I’m not sure about being on top of the world but we are pretty happy right now and deservedly so,” said Puetz. “We deserve to be happy right now and to enjoy tonight. Then, tomorrow, we will start preparing for Great Britain.”
Kohlmann’s outfit entered the clash knowing victory would secure Germany top spot in Group F and they were indebted to world No. 51 Struff for restoring parity in a fluctuating clash.
Struff set the tone early in proceedings by breaking his rival's serve in the first game of the opening set, and despite Novak replying in kind to level at 5-5, a further break saw the 31-year-old prevail.
The second set followed a similar template, with Struff breaking early and then powering home as Novak, who sits 67 places below his opponent in the world rankings, offering little resistance.
“There was a bit pressure on me, going out there at 0-1, but I handled it pretty well,” said Struff. “I went in with a very aggressive style from the first point on and that was the big key to the win.
“There is always pressure playing tennis, however. There is no match without any pressure. I mean, you put pressure on yourself or some circumstances put pressure on you.
“To play for Germany is one of the biggest pressures you can get and there is a lot of tension everywhere. But, as I say, I dealt with it well.
“There was also anger from yesterday [losing to Djokovic in straight sets]. I didn’t play and perform to the level I wanted. I also had too many thoughts in my head before the Djokovic match.”
Many had assumed that Germany would defeat Austria and proceed to the quarter-finals with some considerable ease. Rodionov, however, took steps during the opening singles clash to rip that particular script to shreds.
In a battle of left-handers, Rodionov – making his first on-court appearance at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2021 – chose an opportune moment to post his first competition match-win. He defeated world No. 54 Koepfer 61, 75.
Rodionov’s heroics meant that Germany were forced to sit a little more uncomfortably than they had before the start of play, with the 22-year-old absolutely relentless in the opening set.
He made a mockery of the 85 places which separate him and Koepfer in the world rankings and raced into a commanding lead before a second break of serve allowed him to cruise home 6-1.
Inevitably, the second set was a closer affair with Koepfer, who defeated Filip Krajinovic during Germany’s victory over Serbia on Saturday, failing to convert set points before succumbing 7-5.