The results of last week’s quarterfinals mean that the Davis Cup will remain in Europe for the seventh successive year. In some thrilling Davis Cup ties, Czech Republic, France, Italy and Switzerland emerged victorious. Not since the United States won the Davis Cup in 2007 against Russia, has the trophy gone out of Europe. Interestingly of the 6 years, Spain has kept the Davis Cup on three occasions in 2008, 2009 and 2011, Serbia has kept it once in 2010 and for the last two years, it has been with the Czech Republic. The Czechs look formidable this year as well as they swept away Japan even without their no.1 player Tomas Berdych. In Tokyo, Czech Republic scored a run-away 5-0 win over Japan to enter the semifinal. But Czechs emphatic victory was just an exception, since the other three quarterfinals were fiercely contested, with results not coming out until the end. More importantly, most of the top tennis stars put in their best efforts for their national teams in these matches, all of which ended 3-2 in favor of the eventual winners.
Just as Czech Republic played without Tomas Berdych, injuries forced the absence of Japan’s top star Kei Nishikori, whose solo efforts were responsible for Japan’s entry into the quarters in February, when they routed Canada 4-1 in Tokyo. But this time round, they were up against the might of the defending champions. The Czechs were not willing to give an inch away as they won both singles on the opening day, the doubles on the next day and the reverse singles on day 3. The opening day saw two tough matches, the first between Radek Stepanek and Tatsuma Ito and then the one between Lukas Rosol and Taro Daniel. Stepanek lost the first set 6-7 but won the second 7-6. He almost ran through the defense of Ito in the third by beating him 6-1 but Ito recovered in the fourth before finally yielding at 5-7 to lose the match. Rosol had more problems in the next match as Taro Daniel stretched him fully, although there were no tie-breaks in the entire match. Rosol finally won 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2. The tie was finalized next day with Stepanek and Rosol beating Ito and Uchiyama 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, leaving the reverse singles to only of academic interest.
France and Germany were locked in a humdinger, with the tie decided on the last reverse singles match on April 6. On the hard-indoor court in Nancy, France, Germany went ahead 2-0 by winning both matches on day one. Germany’s Tobias Kamke defeated Frenchman Julien Benneteau 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the opening match and Peter Gojowczyk consolidated by ousting the tenacious Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 5-7, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 8-6 in the next. In the doubles next day, France reduced the deficit, when Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra overcame Andre Begemann and Tobias Kamke 6-1, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5. France went into the reverse singles on day three with a must-win situation. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga showed his class in beating Kamke 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. With the tie hinging on the last match, Gael Monfils ensured France’s entry in semifinals with an easy 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 victory over Gojowczyk.
In Napoli’s Tennis Club at the Italian city of Naples, Italy played against Great Britain in another engrossing Davis Cup quarterfinal on an outdoor clay court. Honors were even on day one, when Italy’s Fabio Foggini beat the Briton James Ward 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray forced an equalizer by defeating Andreas Seppi 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Next day, Britain went 2-1 ahead by winning the doubles, when Colin Fleming and Andy Murray beat Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Yet again the results in the reverse single held the key. On day three, the Italians won both matches. In the first reverse singles, Fabio Fognini defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 and then Seppi beat James Ward 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to lead Italy into the September’s semifinals.
No less intriguing was the tie between Switzerland and Kazakhstan, played on the hard indoor court in Geneva. In the first match Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev surprised Stanislas Wawrinka with a 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 win but Roger Federer made the score 1-1 by easily beating Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. On second day, Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov defeated the fancied combination of Federer and Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. The third day’s reverse singles became crucial in another quarterfinal this year, as Switzerland trailed 1-2. But both Wawrinka and Federer won their matches to put Switzerland in the race for this year’s Davis Cup. While Wawrinka beat Kukushkin 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, Federer got the better of Golubev 7-6, 6-2, 6-3.
During September 12-14, 2014, Switzerland will host Italy in one semifinal, while in the other semifinal in France, where the host nation will play against defending champions, Czech Republic. The 2014 Davis Cup final will be staged during November 21-23.