A review of the standout moments at the 2019 Davis Cup Finals.
The Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals brought together 18 of the world’s best teams to the Caja Magica and witnessed some remarkable tennis and outstanding moments. Here’s a review of some of the highlights.
It’s been an intense week of formidable performances in Madrid, but five players, who won three or more singles matches, stand out for going undefeated in all of them: Andrey Rublev (4-0), Rafael Nadal (5-0), Kyle Edmund (3-0), Novak Djokovic (3-0) and Alex de Minaur (3-0).
Rublev starred for Russia with impressive victories over Roberto Bautista Agut, Borna Gojo, Filip Krajinovic and Vasek Pospisil, while Edmund stepped up for Great Britain, taking over the No.2 singles spot from Andy Murray, who was sidelined after their opening tie. Edmund, showcased the kind of form that lifted him to world No.14 last year, in wins against Philipp Kohlschreiber, Feliciano Lopez and Mikhail Kukushkin.
A trio of veterans contested the final Davis Cup ties of their career: Belgium’s Steve Darcis, Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic and Chile’s Hans Podlipnik-Castillo.
“I would lie if I say if I didn’t think about the potential end of my professional career would happen in Davis Cup. It’s never a good time to retire but if I could choose the moment, this would be the moment,” Tipsarevic told reporters in Madrid.
"It’s never a good time to retire but if I could choose the moment, this would be the moment,” Tipsarevic told reporters in Madrid"
MOST DRAMATIC FINISH
The Germany v Argentina Group C tie had the wildest finish as German duo Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz saved six match points in their doubles decider against Argentines Maximo Gonzalez and Leonardo Mayer to clinch the longest tie-break in Davis Cup history (by points) 20-18.
“Not a bad first match, huh? It’s our Davis Cup debut and it was unbelievable, I have no words for this," said Krawietz after the match.
The semi-final tie between Great Britain and Spain also featured a nail-biting third-set tie-break in a deciding doubles showdown between Spaniards Nadal and Feliciano Lopez, and Brits Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski.
The Brits had two set points at 6-4 in the tiebreak for a chance to take the doubles match into a third but Nadal and Lopez had other ideas, as they saved both – Nadal pulled off a ridiculous get on the second set point – to send Spain into the final. You can only imagine what the atmosphere was like at the Caja Magica on Saturday night!
"It’s our Davis Cup debut and it was unbelievable, I have no words for this"
Taylor Fritz’s Davis Cup debut has no doubt been a memorable one for the 22-year-old American. While USA were unable to qualify from their loaded Group F, the 32nd-ranked Fritz did finish his campaign with a huge win over world No.8 Matteo Berrettini.
Debutante Neal Skupski shone for Great Britain in the group stage alongside Jamie Murray on the doubles court, as the pair defeated the Dutch and the Kazakhs in Group E, before losing a close one to the Spaniards in the semis.
A last-minute call-up for Croatia, 21-year-old Wake Forest University player Borna Gojo, ranked 280 in the world, held his own in his matches against Rublev and Nadal in Group B action. Considering he wasn’t even on the roster days before the tournament, and how he had to take the place of an injured Borna Coric as the defending champions’ No.1 player in their second tie against none other than world No.1 Nadal, Gojo did incredibly well for Croatia. He didn’t see it that way though, as he clearly has a champion’s mentality and hoped he would walk off court as the winner.
“I don't feel great because I lost, and that's just my perspective. Obviously, I played the world No.1, an unbelievable champion. One of my favourite players that I have watched on TV,” Gojo said after his loss to Nadal.
“You lose 6-4, 6-3, you should go, ‘It's okay, didn't get killed out there’. But for me and how I was raised, it's just about winning, really. So I just hope I can get better in the future and maybe try and attack Rafa again or any one of the greats.”
Vasek Pospisil is undoubtedly one of the main heroes of the Davis Cup Madrid Finals. Selected by captain Frank Dancevic over Felix Auger-Aliassime for Canada’s first four ties, Pospisil did an incredible job winning three singles and two doubles matches throughout the week, starting with a straight-sets upset of world No.12 Fabio Fognini. Ranked 150 in the world after returning from back surgery earlier this year, the 29-year-old Pospisil is one of the main reasons Canada made it to the final.
Yoshihito Nishioka’s 7-5, 6-2 opening victory against world No.10 Gael Monfils nearly earned Japan a shock win over France in their Group A tie, but the French scraped through in the doubles to survive. Still, Nishioka’s dismissal of Monfils was a huge upset and a highlight of the world No.73’s Davis Cup career so far.
Andy Murray was two points away from defeat in his decider against Dutch power-serve Tallon Griekspoor but rallied back to complete a two-hour 51-minute victory.
Cristian Garin of Chile poured his heart out in a 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 7-6(8) win over Jan-Lennard Struff, saving three match points against the 35th-ranked German along the way.
Rublev and Karen Khachanov saved three match points to claim a dramatic doubles victory over Djokovic and Viktor Troicki to send Russia into the Davis Cup semi-finals.
MOST EMOTIONAL MOMENTS
Emotions reigned supreme throughout the week in Madrid but perhaps nothing was as moving as Serbia’s tearful press conference following their defeat to Russia in the quarter-finals. With the Serbs heartbroken for not being able to send off Tipsarevic with a trophy, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as captain Nenad Zimonjic attempted to pay tribute to the retiring team member.
There were many unforgettable celebrations for Spain throughout the week but two of the most emotional ones were when Nadal and Bautista Agut embraced after the Spaniards secured their first Davis Cup title since 2011, and when Nadal kissed Feliciano Lopez’s forehand after their clutch doubles win to sink the Brits in the semi-finals.
Colombian world No.194 Daniel Elahi Galan was in beast mode in his singles matches against Belgium and Australia, and almost defeated David Goffin in his opener against the world No.11. The 23-year-old also battled hard in his loss to De Minaur.