United States Into First SF Since 2012
USA 3, BELGIUM 0
Venue: Curb Event Center, Nashville, USA (hard - indoor)
The United States is the first team to advance to the semi-finals, eliminating defending Davis Cup finalist Belgium as Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock defeated Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 5-7, 7-6(1), 7-6(3), 6-4 to clinch the tie, 3-0, on Saturday evening in three hours.
"It feels great. My partner was awesome out there," Harrison said on court after the match. "I was up and down today and he was pretty consistent and helped me get through it. We have a great team. We have a lot of options that can really pull us through and I think we all do our part."
The 32-time Davis Cup champions are now two ties away from claiming the trophy for the first time since 2007. The Americans are also 6-0 in live rubbers in 2018 after ousting Serbia in the first round. John Isner and Sam Querrey both won singles rubbers on Friday to put Harrison and Sock — who reached the semi-finals at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (l. to Bryan/Bryan) — in position to send their country to the next round.
Gille and Vliegen had two opportunities to earn a set-and-a-break lead in the second set, but could not convert. And the American right-handers made them pay, with Sock finding incredible angles on passing shots with his forehand against a very aggressive Belgian pair, which was crossing at every opportunity. Sock/Harrison, who won 88 per cent (76/86) of first-serve points in the match, earned their first break (1/8 converted) to close the match out when Gille hit a forehand into the net.
The United States will face Croatia or Kazakhstan in the semi-finals from 14-16 September.
FRANCE 2, ITALY 1
Venue: Valletta Cambiaso ASD, Genoa, ITA (clay - outdoor)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut moved defending champion France to within one win of the Davis Cup World Group semi-finals after beating Italy’s Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday.
The Frenchmen broke their Italian opponents on seven occasions in the one-hour, 54-minute encounter to give France a 2-1 lead heading into Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers. A change of nomination for Italy, which replaced Paolo Lorenzi with Fognini, could not inspire the home side to victory, with the French pair improving their Davis Cup record as a team to 5-1.
“It’s very satisfying winning that match for the team,” Herbert told DavisCup.com. “We’re obviously very happy to get the point and hopefully the boys can get the job done in the singles. It’s going to be a great match with Lucas (Pouille) and (Fabio) Fognini.”
Herbert and Mahut’s victory gives teammate Pouille the opportunity to book France’s place in the next round when he faces Fognini on Sunday. Despite the 2-1 advantage, Mahut was well aware of the threat the Italian No. 1, who recently won the title in Sao Paulo, poses on Sunday. “There is a long way to go and Fognini played unbelievable in the singles,” said Mahut.
GERMANY 2, SPAIN 1
Venue: Plaza de Toros de Valencia, Valencia, ESP (clay- outdoor)
Germany moved one step closer to becoming the first visiting nation to beat Spain since 1999 (l. to Brazil) after Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff outlasted Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(4), 7-5 after four hours and 40 minutes.
“We had to push each other and try to play more calm in the fifth set,” Struff told DavisCup.com. “I’m just so happy we managed to get the win today, it’s one of the greatest matches of my career for sure."
Puetz and Struff looked to be in complete control of the match after dropping just six points behind their first serves en route to a two-set advantage, but the Spaniards, cheered on by a passionate crowd at the Plaza de Toros de Valencia, fought back to force a deciding set. The German pairing produced the only break of the set in the 11th game of the decider, before serving out the match to earn the visitors a 2-1 lead in the tie.
“In doubles it is very tough to change back momentum, so we had to go back to basics as Marc Lopez in particular was playing unbelievable tennis. It was 50/50 in the end, we got a bit lucky, but it feels great,” said German captain Michael Kohlmann.
Alexander Zverev will have the chance to clinch Germany’s place in the semi-finals on Sunday when he faces World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. The two were both successful on Friday, with straight-set wins over David Ferrer and Philipp Kohlschreiber respectively, Nadal leads Zverev 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with two of their three clashes requiring a deciding set. Nadal won their only previous meeting on clay at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in 2017.
CROATIA 2, KAZAKHSTAN 1
Venue: Varazdin Arena, Varazdin, CRO (clay - indoor)
Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic secured a vital point for Croatia, defeating Kazakhstan's Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 after exactly three hours of play.
Dodig and Mektic won 74 per cent of points behind their first serves to put Croatia 2-1 ahead in the tie, coming from a set down to delight the home fans in attendance at the Varazdin Arena. The result hands World No. 3 Marin Cilic the opportunity to clinch the tie in the opening match on Sunday, when he faces Kazakh No. 1 Mikhail Kukushkin. Cilic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1, winning their most recent meeting in the 2015 US Open third round in five sets.