In 2015 Belgium captain Johan van Herck took his nation into its first Davis Cup final since 1904 and repeated that achievement two years later. “It was very special,” he says. “A lot of players and myself always dreamed of winning or being in the final of the Davis Cup. That installed confidence that we could go far and that we were a good team.”
You had an impressive win in Brazil in February's Qualifying Round. How satisfying was that?
It was very important for us to be in the Finals. Going there without David Goffin, Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore, who was in the 2017 final in Lille with us, it was a difficult task but on the other hand we had the players who coped really well with the circumstances - with the altitude, with the clay. We went there without fear but with respect and we believed we could do it.
Will playing at the Finals help boost the sport’s profile in Belgium?
It’s very important for us to be there. Davis Cup and Fed Cup have always been important in Belgium because we don’t have many tournaments so it’s important publicity to have our best players playing.
“I think everyone expects a battle between us and Australia, and South American teams have proved over the years -in every sport- that once they play for the national flag they can achieve something more”
What are you expecting from the Madrid Finals in November?
It’s difficult to say how it’s going to be but it can be a great event. For us as a team we will be motivated and well prepared and we’ll try to do well.
Do you think the format of the Finals will make for an intense week that might feature some surprising results?
I’ve always had that feeling about Davis Cup. In the group stages every match, every point, every game will be important. If you’re not first in your group you can still go through as the best ‘second' so it will be very intense. Upsets will be more likely than when you play a three-day format and best-of-five-set matches and the fans I think always like a surprise and an upset.
How do you see your group that features Australia and Colombia?
I think everyone expects a battle between us and Australia but again as we showed in Brazil and over the years I think you can never underestimate any opponent and South American teams have proved over the years in every sport that once they play for the national flag they can achieve something more, so it’ll be a tough challenge. Every match will be very intense, very interesting and a big fight from the first point and we’ll need big concentration from the beginning.
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