The Davis Cup by Rakuten Qualifiers 2020 continues to show its magic! The United States, Australia, Italy and Czech Rep. are on the verge of confirming their presence at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2020, as well as Croatia, who had to fight harder than expected against an India that has undoubtedly been one of the main protagonists of the first day. Ecuador also went ahead 0-2 after Japan failed to capitalise on its home status. Kazakhstan-Netherlands, Austria-Uruguay, Sweden-Chile, Germany-Belarus, Hungary-Belgium and Colombia-Argentina all finished the day with a draw (1-1).
Twenty-four teams will compete in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Qualifiers on 6–7 March, with the ties played under a home-and-away format. The 12 winning nations will advance to the Finals 2020 where they will be joined by the four semi-finalists from the Finals 2019 (Spain, Canada, Great Britain and Russia) as well as two wild cards (France and Serbia).
Australia, 2 - Brazil, 0
The tie in Adelaide began well for the team captained by Lleyton Hewitt. Jordan Thompson defied all odds against Brazilian number one, Thiago Monteiro, winning in two comfortable sets. Things had started well for the Australians...
But it was not going to be as easy as it was a year ago against Bosnia Herzegovina. Remember this name: Thiago Seyboth Wild. We're going to hear a lot more about this Brazilian 19-year-old. He won his first ATP title last Sunday in Santiago de Chile and, five days later, made his Davis Cup debut and had the chance to win his first match in the competition. However, despite taking the first set, the experience of Australia's John Millman prevailed.
J. Thompson def. T. Monteiro 64 64
J. Millan def T. Seyboth Wild 46 76(0) 62
Japan, 0 - Ecuador, 2
Japan is one point away from defeat following victories for Emilio Gómez and Roberto Quiroz in the tie that is being played behind closed doors in Miki (Japan). Ecuador could confirm qualification tomorrow, for the first time, for the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals. Gómez, Ecuador's number one and son of former Roland-Garros champion, Andrés Gómez, delivered the first blow by defeating Go Soeda.
Local number one, Yasutaka Uchiyama, had the chance to level the tie, but it was too big a task. He managed to force a third set in his duel with Quiroz, but the Ecuadorian managed to save two match points and celebrate a historic victory for his country.
E. Gómez def. G. Soeda 75 76(3)
R. Quiroz def. Y Uchiyama 76(4) 26 76(8)
Kazakhstan, 1 - Netherlands, 1
Their duel in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2019, which finished in favour of the Kazakhs, will be fresh in the minds of both nations. But the news from this first day of the Qualifiers in Nur-Sultan was Robin Haase's victory over Mikhail Kukushin – the Kazakh number two hadn't lost a Davis Cup match at home since February 2014 (against the Belgian, David Goffin). That triumph breathed life into the Dutch team.
But local hope returned with Alexander Bublik's victory over Tallon Griekspoor in a duel between two players who debuted in the competition in 2019. Kazakhstan want to protect the fortress that is Nur-Sultan (they haven't lost there since 2013) and they will give everything to maintain their winning streak.
R. Haase def. M. Kukushkin 64 67(2) 63
A. Bublik def T. Griekspoor 76(4) 76(4)
Italy, 2 – Korea, Rep., 0
Italy are hoping to improve upon their Davis Cup Finals performance of 2019 where they finished third in Group F. And their campaign started well on day one of the 2020 Qualifiers in Cagliari. On paper, they were firm favourites for their meeting with Korea, and world number 11, Fabio Fognini, took just 64 minutes to beat Duckhee Lee, ranked more than 200 places below him.
Gianluca Mager and Ji Sung Nam met for the second match of the day, and once again, the difference in rankings would suggest an easy win for Italy. Maybe it was the lengthy rain delay between the two matches, or maybe new captain Hee-Sung Chung was working his magic, but Nam wasn’t going to let it all go Italy’s way. The Korean saved multiple break points to protect his lead in the second set before Mager pulled away to take Italy to a 2-0 lead going into day two.
F. Fognini def. D. Lee 60 63
G. Mager def. J. Nam 63 75
Slovakia, 0 - Czech Rep., 2
Jiri Vesely gave the Czech Republic their first point in Bratislava, after beating Jozef Kovalik, who offered a great defence despite losing in two close sets.
The second match of the first day pitted Andrej Martin of Slovakia against Lukas Rosol, who was able to take advantage of his greater experience in the Davis Cup to overcome his rival in the key moments.
This is the first time that these neighbouring countries have come up against each other and the first day leaves the Czech Republic on the verge of qualification for the Davis Cup Finals for the first time.
J. Vesely def. J. Kovalik 63 75
L. Rosol def. A. Martin 64 64
Croatia, 2 - India, 0
It was anticipated that Croatia, Davis Cup champions in 2018, would perform to expectation in Zagreb and indeed finished the first day of their Qualifier against India 2-0 up. Tomorrow, Saturday, their doubles match may be enough to secure their ticket to Madrid.
Despite this expectation, however, the local favourites encountered fierce resistance from the two Indian singles players chosen for the occasion, who staged an epic battle before falling against the Croats. Despite the differences in ranking, the magic of the Davis Cup seemed to even up the battles. Borna Gojo needed three sets to beat Prajnesh Gunneswara while in the second match, Ramkumar Ramanathan faced Marin Cilic's best tennis to provide a battle to remember for the Indian fans who were in the Dom Sportova in Zagreb, with the two sets won by Cilic both going to a tie break.
Croatia is hoping to make the Davis Cup Finals for the second consecutive year.
B. Gojo def. P. Gunneswara 36 64 62
M. Cilic def. R.Ramanathan 76 (8) 76 (8)
Austria, 1 - Uruguay,1
Uruguay’s Martín Cuevas took to the court in Graz in the first match against Dennis Novak, but the Austrian’s superior ranking made itself known and Novak swept to a swift and decisive victory.
While Austria’s overall team composition would favour a win and a place in the November Finals, Uruguay were relying on the quality of Cuevas’s brother, Pablo, world number 60, and he stepped up next against 20-year-old Jurij Rodionov. It was youth versus experience, and on this occasion experience won out – this time over three sets.
This is Uruguay’s first appearance in the Davis Cup Qualifiers and the first time they have played Austria since 1985, with Austria attempting to reach their first Davis Cup Finals (they fell in the 2019 Qualifiers to Chile).
D. Novak def. M. Cuevas 62, 64
P. Cuevas def. J. Rodionov 67(7) 63 76(5)
Sweden, 1 – Chile, 1
Mikael Ymer stepped up first in Stockholm’s Royal Tennis Hall to face Chile’s Marcelo Barrios. Despite a valiant fight from Barrios, Ymer opened Sweden’s bid to make the Finals in Madrid with a straight-sets win.
Sweden’s new captain, Robin Soderling, himself a double Roland-Garros runner-up has great confidence in the Ymer brothers, and it was Elias who took to the court next, against the higher-ranked Alejandro Tabilo. However, it was Chile’s chance to show dominance and this time the straight sets went their way.
The withdrawal of Cristian Garín has been a blow to Chile's aspirations to reach the Finals for a second year in a row, and the teams go into day two with the tie finely balanced.
M. Ymer def. M. Barrios 62 63
A. Tabilo def. E. Ymer 64 63
Germany, 1 – Belarus, 1
In the first match of day one in Düsseldorf, Jan-Lennard Struff displayed his top-40 ranking with a straight-sets win for Germany over Ilya Ivashka, taking just an hour and twenty minutes.
In the second match, the experienced Philipp Kohlschreiber faced Egor Gerasimov, who pushed the German to three sets before taking the match and placing the two nations on a knife edge for day two.
Despite the fact that their only previous meeting, in 2003, resulted in a win for Belarus, Germany went into this tie as favourites, fielding the same team that reached the quarter-finals at the 2019 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals. Without a doubt, high emotion is being served up in Dusseldorf.
J. Struff def. I. Ivashka 64 64
E. Gerasimov def. P. Kohlschreiber 46 75 76(3)
Hungary, 1 – Belgium, 1
The first match in Debrecen pitted home hope Attila Balasz against Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans, with Bemelmans stepping up to take the match in three sets to beat his higher-ranked opponent.
Second on court for Hungary was Marton Fucsovics, facing Kimmer Coppejans, and once again it was a long and hard-fought battle. This time, in their debut appearance at the Qualifiers, it was Hungary that came out on top.
Although as a team the Hungarian singles players have better rankings, the Belgian team has a better record against them over previous meetings. This really is a tie where anything could happen, and it proved the case as the only tie to involve two three-set matches.
R. Bemelmans def. A. Balasz 57 76(4) 64
M. Fucsovics def. K. Coppejans 62 57 64
Colombia, 1 – Argentina, 1
At their tie in Bogotá, Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galán took the fight for a place in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals straight to the Argentinians with a decisive win over Leonardo Mayer in little over an hour.
The second match pitted Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero, world number 62, against Santiago Giraldo – more than 200 places below him in the rankings. Giraldo fought from 4-1 down to take the first set, but Londero evened it up and went on to take the third, rounding off day one 1-1.
Colombia now have the advantage of the best doubles team in the world in the form of Robert Farah and Juan Sebastián Cabal. There is all to play for on day two.
D. Galan def. L. Mayer 61 64
J. Londero def. S. Giraldo 67(6) 63 62
USA, 2 - Uzbekistan, 0
There were no shocks in Honolulu for the United States. Reilly Opelka opened the duel with Uzbekistan with a two-set victory over Denis Istomin and in the second match Taylor Fritz, number 24 in the world, was relentless against Sanjar Fayziev, ranked 498.
The Bryan brothers, the best doubles pair of all time, will have the opportunity to seal US qualification for the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals for the second consecutive year. It would be the finishing touch on a fantastic career in the Davis Cup, in which they hold all the records for their nation, and Bob and Mike have announced their retirement from professional tennis after the US Open. It will be a match to remember!
R. Opelka def. D. Istomin 62 75
T. Fritz def. S. Fayziev 61 62
More information to follow...
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