“I was part of the tie when we lost away to Lithuania in Group Two, and that proved to be John Lloyd’s last match as captain.
Then, Leon came in and we played Turkey in Eastbourne. The pressure was on because if we had lost that, it would have been Group C, which is a totally different format, and not where we would want to be at all. The tie went really well, we won 5-0, then next up we played Tunisia in Bolton, and I remember Leon doing a presentation to the guys in the team hotel.
The main theme was that we were on a journey back to the World Group. At the time, it seemed quite ambitious and optimistic, but it has proven to be a reality. Andy coming back on board has been a key thing. It makes a huge difference having him there, but it is amazing the journey from those days. It would be unbelievable to end it by winning the Davis Cup.
Obviously, the team struggled for a while without Andy. There is no doubt about it, but it gave certain people a real chance to step up and play. Over the years, a few people have proven themselves in this arena. James Ward, obviously, while Dan Evans had some amazing Davis Cup results too.”
A look at Team GB’s journey from World II group to Davis Cup final:
Andy Murray: “A fantastic challenge I’m looking forward to in 2014 is representing Great Britain in the World Group of Davis Cup. We played a great match in Umag, Croatia, in September to gain promotion. There is a great sense of togetherness in the British camp. A lot of good people work for the game in this country at so many different levels and the Davis Cup is an opportunity for us all to show what it means to represent Britain. The sense is different from when you are out there on your own. I know I have the support from my box – that’s a given – but this is right there, in your face, the whole time.”
1st round: GREAT BRITAIN – USA 3-1, San Diego, clay
After Andy Murray‘s routine win over Donald Young, British number 2 James Ward caused a big surprise by defeating former top 20 Sam Querrey in five sets. Bob and Mike Bryan kept the US hope alive, but Murray finished the job to put Great Britain into the quarterfinals for the first time since 1986. It is also the first time Britain have beaten the USA since 1935!
Andy Murray defeats Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-3
James Ward defeats Sam Querrey 1-6 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1
Bob and Mike Bryan defeat Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot 6-2 6-3 3-6 6-1
Andy Murray defeats Sam Querrey 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-3
For the second year in a row, USA and Great Britain meet in the Davis Cup first round. Last year in San Diego, Great Britain advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1986, thanks to an 3-1 victory over the Americans in San Diego. Americans had strangely chosen to play on clay.
After Andy Murray’s easy win over Donald Young, world number 175 James Ward pulled off a five-set upset over 49th-ranked Sam Querrey. The Bryan brothers kept the Americans’ hope alive with a victory over Colin Fleming and Dominic Inglot, but Andy Murray sealed the British victory with a four set win against Querrey in the reverse singles.
This year, the Brits have opted to play on indoor hard courts in Glasgow. John Isner replaces Sam Querrey in the US team:
while Jamie Murray will play the doubles alongside Dominic Inglot:
At 1-1 after the first day (see my recap here), I was pretty sure the pair of Tsonga and Gasquet would beat the Swiss, and then Federer would win over Tsonga on Sunday, and the winner of the deciding rubber between Monfils and Wawrinka would offer the Davis Cup to his country. How wrong I was…
French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was in fact injured, and Benneteau teamed up with Gasquet to face Federer and Wawrinka.
Guy Forget and Henri Leconte
Federer/Wawrinka vs Benneteau/Gasquet
As a French supporter this doubles match was a nightmare: Gasquet was totally lost on court, Julien Benneteau did all he could to help Gasquet, and Arnaud Clément was completely useless.
Straight sets victory for the Swiss, with a monster performance by Stan Wawrinka.
Second set Switzerland:
Game, set, match Switzerland:
At 2-1 for the Swiss, I knew it was already over and I would watch Federer’s win over Gasquet on TV. What a disappointment.
I usually travel hundreds of kilometers to watch live tennis, so it was a strange feeling to leave home, take the metro, walk about 10 minutes and be there in front of the Stade Pierre Mauroy, ready to attend the much expected Davis Cup final between France and Switzerland.
It’s kinda ironic that’s the only times I’ve been to a football stadium were to attend rugby matches (when I was a volunteer for the rugby World Cup in 2007) and tennis matches.
Despite the queue, it took only a few minutes to enter the stadium.
The road to the Davis Cup final has been quite a rollercoaster for me: the excitement when I learned Lille (my hometown) would stage the final, the disappointment when I wasn’t able to buy tickets, the relief when I managed to buy tickets (thank you Twitter), the doubts about the visibility from the category 4 seat. But here I am. The court, the crowd, the flags, the atmosphere, as soon as I sat in my place I knew it would be something like I never seen or lived before.
Skip the use
But first, a mini-concert by local band Skip the use. I honestly couldn’t care less.
First big moment of this historic Davis Cup weekend, the teams presentation. And no surprise, Federer is the most applauded player.
I look at the giant screen and I have a bad feeling: I see Tsonga’s face, he looks scared, exactly the same face he had just before his semifinal disaster against Ferrer at Roland Garros last year.
Unfortunately, I was right…
Tsonga vs Wawrinka
3 meters behind the baseline, the French number one can’t do anything to counter Wawrinka‘s powerful grounstrokes. He just can’t pull a ball in the court and keeps making errors after errors after errors. A really bad start for Tsonga. Wawrinka wins five straight games to clinch the first set 6-1:
27,432 spectators! The previous record for a tennis match (27,200) had been set in Seville in 2004 for the Davis Cup final between Spain and the USA.
Things look a bit better for Tsonga in the second set, he is more aggressive and Wawrinka starts making a few errors here and there. Second set for Tsonga 6-3, a little hope for the French fans:
Wawrinka breaks in the sixth game of the third set and leads 4-2. Tsonga then saves two set points at 2-5. Tsonga and the French crowd are on fire..
But it only lasts two minutes, the Swiss wins the third set and leads 2 sets to one. An early break for Stan in the fourth set, Tsonga looks resigned and nobody believes in a win from behind. Game, set, match Wawrinka 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2. Switzerland leads 1-0.
Tsonga’s game was bad but his attitude was worst, he kept complaining for nothing, looked at times completely lost, and the only excuse he found for his non-match was that the crowd didn’t support him enough. Seriously…
Too much pressure on his shoulders? Too much expectations? Visibly still bothered by his right arm injury (he kept saying “J’y arrive pas” to Clément during the changeovers), he perhaps should have been preserved for Sunday’s reverse singles or perhaps Tsonga wanted to play this final at all costs because he missed the Belgrade final in 2010? In any case it is too late to change the course of the final now.
Monfils vs Federer
There had been much talk about Federer’s back injury during the week, his first serve is at 207km/h, the case is closed. A completely different match from the first rubber and a completely different atmosphere: Monfils is on fire from first point on and so is the crowd! First set Monfils 6-1:
He keeps the pressure on Federer in the second set: solid serve, powerful forehands, and 6-4 for Monfils:
Monfils leads two sets to none and I start thinking: please Gael, don’t go nuts!, because the last time both players met, at the US Open this year, Monfils led by two sets to none, wasted 2 match points in the fourth set, only to lose in five sets. This time, no regret for the Frenchman who is rock solid on serve: 6-1 6-4 6-3 in less than two hours.
When you watch Monfils playing like that, so focused, you can only ask yourself: what if? What if he had a coach? What if he had a more professional attitude? What if he had taken time to improve his technique. He probably would have been a top 5 and a perennial Grand Slam contender. I guess we’ll never know…
It’s now time to go home: