Rafa Races Past Zverev, Spain Wins Epic
SPAIN 3, GERMANY 2
Venue: Plaza de Toros de Valencia, Valencia, ESP (clay- outdoor)
To begin play on Sunday, Nadal forced a decisive fifth rubber by impressively defeating Germany’s Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 in a battle between two players inside the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings. The Spaniard levelled the Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Germany at 2-2 after two hours and 16 minutes, breaking the 20-year-old on six occasions en route to his second three-set win in three days.
Speaking on court after the crucial win, Nadal emphasised the importance of the victory and the special atmosphere inside the Plaza de Toros de Valencia. “It was never going to be easy so I’m very happy to get an important victory for me and the team," reflected Nadal. “I’m very happy with my level, the first set was fantastic in such an important match. It’s a great feeling and very unique to play here in front of my people. It was a great match for me in an unbelievable atmosphere.”
The tie moved to a fifth, decisive rubber and it was there that David Ferrer completed the comeback for Spain, with a marathon four-hour, 51-minute victory over World No. 34 Philipp Kohlschreiber. Ferrer, ranked one place above his opponent in the ATP Rankings, fell to the court on his back after hitting a crosscourt backhand passing shot winner to clinch a 7-6(1), 3-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-5 win.
Spain has now won its past 27 home Davis Cup ties, dating back to 1999 (l. to Brazil), while Germany’s 11-year wait for another semi-final appearance continues. The five-time champions will travel to France in September, as the team continues its pursuit of the Davis Cup final for the first time in six years.
FRANCE 3, ITALY 1
Venue: Valletta Cambiaso ASD, Genoa, ITA (clay - outdoor)
The World No. 11 became just the third player to beat Fognini in a Davis Cup singles match on clay, in a match lasting just over three hours with 13 breaks of serve. France has now won six consecutive Davis Cup ties, two shy of its all-time record win streak from 2000-2002.
“I think I was more consistent over the match. I had a tough first set but I kept trying and was playing better and better and it was a great effort to come back and win this one," Pouille told DavisCup.com. “We knew that before coming here it would be a tough tie, but we gave our best and now we are going to try and defend our title.”
The loss marks Italy’s third successive exit from the team competition at the quarter-finals stage. Italy lost to eventual runner-up Belgium in 2017 and 2016 champion Argentina two years ago.
France will host the winner of the tie between Spain and Germany, from 14-16 September, for a place in the Davis Cup final.