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Davis Cup Wrap 09/21/2009 - 12:00 PM

By Pete Bodo

It was a great weekend for heroes, if not for Andy Murray, whose Great Britain Davis Cup squad went down in stinky flames to Poland in - get this - Group I zonal competition. And at home, no less.

That's right, Murray and company weren't even fighting for the privilege of remaining in the World Group, as were so many marquee names this weekend; they're wallowing down in the zonal pits and it's fair to ask, can you get there (WG) from here? Or, at what point is Murray entitled to throw up his hands and walk away from the Davis Cup mess, much like Roger Federer did some years ago, grumbling: Get me someone, anyone who can play this stupid game!

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While the importance of Davis Cup remains an issue among some fans and the media persists in ignoring this all-around terrific competition, the nations of the world continue to field increasingly formidable squads and produce sometimes insanely competitive and/or dramatic ties. How about Nicolas Lapentti, at the mind-blowing age of 33, leading Ecuador into the elite World Group fold by playing two best-of-five singles and a doubles over three  consecutive days, on clay, to lead his squad past Brazil - in Brazil?

Meet Nico Lapentti, Davis Cup MVP of this week. We're not taking questions.

Lapentti won his Day One singles i handily but, playing alongside his brother Giovanni, he had to grind out fives sets to help secure the doubles. Thus, in the scripted meeting of No. 1s, Lapentti played the fourth, potentially clinching rubber against Brazilian no. 1 Marcos Daniel. Long story short: Lapentti won it, 8-6 in the fifth

And this is what Lapentti said in the wake of his great effort: “It is one of the most special moments of my life. I really couldn’t believe when the match finished, because it was so up and down. I was very tired after the first two sets but this is the beauty of Davis Cup, the energy of a team and the energy of a country."

Come on, sports editors and broadcasters of the USA, give it up for Davis Cup. How about a little love? And yes, I'll keep saying it until I'm blue in the face, even though I'm already blue in the face. Davis Cup is, along with the four Grand Slam events, an absolutely critical crown jewel of the game. And there's nothing wrong with the format; Davis Cup has had a player-commitment problem, not a format problem.

But as an increasing number of players from formerly off-the-radar nations contend at majors (Djokovic is a great example; Federer would have been one, too, if only he weren't playing tennis for different stakes than everyone else) and earn big reputations by winning them, the status of Davis Cup will continue to grow. One net-gain for tennis in this period of relative weakness in the US is that the indifference of the media here is not an embarrassment for Davis Cup, nor does anyone else in the world give a hoot about our general attitude toward the competition. The decline of talent in the US has boosted Davis Cup worldwide.

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And consider this: Roger Federer played the key role in keeping Switzerland in the World Group. Chile, France, Serbia, India, Sweden and Ecuador - a mix of tennis powers and game outsiders - will join the Swiss. We had some very big names in the breech with the embarrassment of relegation to the Davis Cup minors (in some nations, that's considered a scandal) at stake.The key players who stepped up for their nations included Lapentti, Nicolas Massu (Chile), Somdev Devvarman (India), Robin Soderling (Sweden), and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France). Serbia didn't even feel obliged to play Novak Djokovic - which just shows how far that small nation has advanced in the tennis food chain. It's still a  laundry list of familiar names, if you know that Lapentti was once in the top 10, Massu an Olympic Games singles gold medalist, and Devvarman a two-time NCAA champion. You probably know about that Federer guy, too.

And you've got the love the plain-jane but information rich Davis Cup website of the ITF. It's not nearly as slick and "now" as the ATP or WTA sites, but it's incomparably easier to navigate and just feels like a real, no-nonsense, tennis nut's site.

Of course, it was a lost weekend for Andy Murray; Great Britain now drops back another league, to Group II.But hey - they're probably still dancing in the streets in Cracow.

PS - Treat this as the Your Call post for today.


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Posted by Jackie 09/22/2009 at 11:46 AM

g, check out scores later. You'll understand.

Posted by Jackie 09/22/2009 at 11:48 AM

And? I never spoke to you after the JMdP win, did I! Congrats up the behind, dear. What a PHENOMENAL performance.

And jb told you about our JMdP wilderness sighting, right? On our way from the subway to the hotel? So lovely. ;)

Posted by neil in toronto 09/22/2009 at 11:54 AM

I think Azarenka had a stellar first half of the year, but then you're right, she's kind of gone flat for a bit. Kuzy winning her second slam was another great story, tho i see nothing wrong with being a "one slam wonder". I mean one slam certainly bests no slams.

Not only Kim's mental strength showed vast improvement from the first chapter of her career, but she seemed to be playing a much more economical game this time around. I don't remember her inside out forehand being so sweet, and she really went after the ball more.

The great thing about Mel, is that she's young and i presume may get a little taller, though there are a few players that have been super successful, while not being big and muscular. I think Vee certainly is the classier of the two sisters, but Serena's fire has served her well.

I just realized that fully 5 out of the top ten men are carrying some sort of injury.

Posted by Master Ace 09/22/2009 at 11:56 AM

Pete has posted Your Call for today.

Posted by gauloises 09/22/2009 at 11:58 AM

Thanks Jax :)

Yes, she told me - I pestered her for so many details. I'm so jealous.

Posted by Anne 09/22/2009 at 11:59 AM

Tennis is a rough sport on the body, that's for sure. You're right, Melanie O doesn't have to be huge to be good (many have compared her to Justine H), but I don't think her game is a sound as Justine's.

Posted by neil in toronto 09/22/2009 at 12:02 PM

Agreed, its not there yet, i think a little work on the serve would improve her game vastly.

Lunch calls, so i'm out, but it was great "meeting" you Anne, and hopefully we'll talk soon :)

Posted by neil in toronto 09/22/2009 at 12:02 PM

And a have a great day/evening/night all!!

Posted by Peg 09/22/2009 at 12:09 PM

"How Kuzt didn't win this year's Open, yikes!"

I'm still shaking my head over that last match. When she's good, she can be very very good, and when she's not -- *heaves sigh*

Posted by Peg 09/22/2009 at 12:09 PM

"How Kuzt didn't win this year's Open, yikes!"

I'm still shaking my head over that last match. When she's good, she can be very very good, and when she's not -- *heaves sigh*

Posted by Anne 09/22/2009 at 12:13 PM

Nice chatting, too; it was fun having a bunch of laughs this morning!

Posted by Anne 09/22/2009 at 12:13 PM

Peg,for sure!

Posted by pogiako 09/22/2009 at 12:49 PM

Srdjan Dyokovic is no Robert Federer. Just like Nanette Federer will never act the way Mama Dyokovic acted. There is a big difference between refine and no fine.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/22/2009 at 01:06 PM

lynne: andrew lloyd webber. exactly. didn't know they divorced.

neil: hope you'll be back so we can share our mutual rafa love.

Posted by pogiako 09/22/2009 at 01:30 PM

The Swiss were just having fun.

Posted by pogiako 09/22/2009 at 01:35 PM

it looks like history repeats itself. before, lleyton was a problem to patrick rafter. now its tomic's turn to snub lleyton.

Posted by pogiako 09/22/2009 at 01:40 PM

I do not buy the swine flu reason. Tomic will not be playing if he has one. Would you?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 09/22/2009 at 03:05 PM

Neil was that you????

Where have you been

Dam I missed him

Good Morning Everyone

Posted by neil in toronto 09/22/2009 at 03:34 PM

Muah ahhh ahhh...still kicking around A.M.. Sent a reply to your old email addy, the yahoo one kept bouncing back.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/22/2009 at 04:33 PM

http://tinyurl.com/mxwskp

Though Federer has faced some criticism over the years for unapologetically putting his personal goals before Team Suisse, it’s worth noting that he’s played more DC matches than anyone else in the Top 5. Of course, he’s also quite a bit older than Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but I think these numbers put Roger’s supposed lack of commitment in perspective:

Davis Cup career win/loss records (via Daviscup.com)

Roger Federer: 35/11
Andy Roddick: 31/11
Novak Djokovic: 14/6
Rafael Nadal: 14/5
Andy Murray: 9/5
Juan Martin del Potro: 6/2

Posted by Master Ace 09/23/2009 at 08:07 AM

2010 World Group seeds
1. Spain
2. Czech Republic
3. United States
4. Russia
5. Argentina
6. Croatia
7. Israel
8. Germany

Switzerland at (1)Spain
(8)Germany at France
India at(4)Russia
(5)Argentina at Sweden
Ecuador at(6)Croatia
(3)United States at Serbia
(7)Israel at Chile
(2)Czech Republic at Belgium

Posted by SUI_HotMale 09/23/2009 at 01:46 PM

Must see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4gjtn6k4qw

He's not commited? Really?

Posted by oscar 09/23/2009 at 03:57 PM

Congrats to Nico Lapentti, great win. It is very hard to play in Brazil!!!

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/23/2009 at 04:26 PM

Well, well - Switzerland got their "nightmare scenario" - having to play Spain in the first round, in Spain ! Can't get a worse draw than that ! For Fed to travel to Spain and play the Spanish team including his nemesis on clay, inbetween the hard court events - that's just a no-win situation for him. Look, there's just no way they can beat the Spanish team - not with Nadal playing. Even if Fed manages to win both his matches (and that's a tall order!), Stan would need to beat a player higher-ranked than him. Spain will also have top-notch singles players playing doubles. Tough ask for the Swiss team, and I really wouldn't advise Roger to travel all the way to Spain and put his chances in hardcourt masters tournaments at risk.

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 09/23/2009 at 05:43 PM

Crazy, I knew they would get them first round, its just Davis Cup karma for Fed, just like getting the US last year, its a pity when u think with a good draw, a contry can sneak into a semi or even final beating some very mediocre teams, Swiss vs. Spain should be a Davis Cup FINAL, not a first round, this draw is bad for many reasons, it sucks the drama of the later rounds out a bit, as in the lackluster semi of Spain vs. Israel recently, total mismatch ... draws DO matter, esp in Davis Cup...

i say Fed should play no matter what, cant wait to hear all the whining (in either direction) about this one after his decision...

Posted by Narconon 10/06/2009 at 08:28 PM

I use to love playing tennis every morning until I got into drugs then drugs is the only thing I wanted to do every morning.

Posted by Tenys4ever 10/24/2009 at 07:25 PM

Young Tomic's father is his biggest liability at the moment. He is blessed with a talent for exposing his son to incidences of poor judgement on court behaviour; poor manners and lack of respect for Lleyton Hewitt and just recently the exposed road rage incident that happened a while ago. What more publicity can this man want? And there are other incidences that have been hidden away by TA that no doubt will come out over time. What a great role model!

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