The first day of 2016 Davis Cup semifinals ended with Great Britain losing both their opening singles matches to Argentina, while France and Croatia shared one win each. Expectedly, the thrill was provided by the grueling opening rubber between Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro. The two warriors were locked in an over 5-hour fight before del Potro extracted his revenge on Murray for his gold-medal loss at the Rio Olympic Games recently. In a match that turned out to be Davis Cup classic, the Argentine proved he was on a road to bouncing back into mainstream tennis after being sidelined due to multiple wrist surgeries. With del Potro’s affected wrist still preventing him to play his full range of shots, he fought doggedly with the world no.2 and put Argentina 1-0 ahead at Glasgow. Later in the night, Guido Pella made it 2-0 by winning the second singles as well. Pella overcame a sluggish start to defeat Kyle Edmunds in four sets and Argentina are already in great position to enter the 2016 Davis Cup final. At Zadar in Croatia, Richard Gasquet played flawless tennis to defeat Borna Coric as France began with a 1-0 lead. However, Croatia equaled the day’s score with Marin Cilic’s victory over Lucas Pouille.
At Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, the duel between Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro reached the edges of thrill. Besides giving Argentina a 1-0 lead, del Potro also avenged his Rio Olympic loss to Murray 5 weeks ago. It was big see-saw battle of power, craft and wits between the 27-year old del Potro and world no.2 Andy Murray, but inspired tennis by the Argentine in the last two sets proved decisive. Egged on by the partisan Glasgow crowd, Murray began powerfully and jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first set. But the Brit lost the momentum soon as del Potro nullified the early advantage by working his way back into the set and taking it at 6-4. Murray, however, did his own act of outplaying del Potro in second and third sets to take the 2-1 lead on sets. Yet again, the Argentinian applied the push and peppered the court with winners to emerge victorious in five sets at 6-4, 5-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 after more than 5 hours on court. Defending Davis Cup champion Britain further lost the advantage, when Kyle Edmunds was also beaten on opening day. Edmunds began well but Argentinian Guido Pella took a leaf from del Potro and emerged winner at 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. With 2-0 lead in the tie, Argentina can lose the semifinal only if Britain were to take the next three rubbers on Saturday and Sunday.
In the other semifinal at Zadar in Croatia, France got off to a great start through old hand Richard Gasquet. The 30-year old Frenchman played an exceptional game to defeat Croatia’s rising star Borna Coric in three sets and France led Croatia 1-0. After Gasquet easily took the first set, Coric came back strongly in the second but still lost in the tiebreak. The Croat youngster lost the plot after the 0-2 deficit on sets as Gasquet finished a worthy winner at 6-2, 7-6, 6-1. However, in the other singles tie, Marin Cilic brought Croatia level at 1-1 with a 6-1, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 win over Lucas Pouille. The sharing of opening day honors has made the tie interesting and both teams have equal chances at this moment.
In World Group play-offs, Japan has already won 3-0 against Ukraine at Osaka while Australia, Canada, Belgium, Germany and Spain have established a 2-0 opening day leads against their opponents. However, at Moscow, the opening day’s play was washed out due to rain in the tie between Russia and Kazakhstan while Uzbekistan and Switzerland ended at 1-1 at Tashkent. In India’s tie against Spain in New Delhi, the Spaniards were far superior to the hosts despite Rafael Nadal staying on benches. In the first singles, Feliciano Lopez dropped a set but still beat Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 while Saketh Myneni was no match to David Ferrer going down at 1-6, 2-6, 1-6.
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