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2012 Davis Cup World Group Semifinals and World Group Playoffs Recap

John DeMarzoContributor IOctober 11, 2016

2012 Davis Cup World Group Semifinals and World Group Playoffs Recap

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    Just six days ago, the year's final major, the US Open, concluded with an epic final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, with Murray outlasting Djokovic in five sets to capture his first career major.

    But there's no rest for the weak and weary, as this past weekend, the 2012 Davis Cup World Group Semifinals and World Group Playoffs were contested in 10 locations around the globe.

    What was at stake? For the four nations in the World Group semifinals, a berth in the final, which is scheduled to take place Friday, November 16 through Sunday, November 18 at a location yet to be determined. The final will take place one week after the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will take place in London.

    For the 16 nations in the World Group playoffs, the stakes were win and advance to the 2013 World Group, or lose and be relegated to their respective Zonal Regions. After this weekend, we will know the 16 nations that will take part in the 2013 World Group, which is the highest level of the Davis Cup.

    The eight quarterfinalist nations from 2012 automatically advance to the 2013 World Group, and they are Spain, Austria, France, Serbia, Croatia, Argentina, the United States and the Czech Republic. The other eight participating nations are the winners of this weekend's World Group playoffs.

    Here's a look back at the weekend that was in the Davis Cup, starting with the World Group semifinals.

Spain 3, United States 1

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    Where: Gijon, Spain
    Surface: Outdoor clay

    When Rafael Nadal announced that he would miss the Davis Cup tie against the United States, American hopes increased dramatically.

    Sure, Spain had two elite clay-court players in David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro at their disposal, but the United States had both John Isner—who defeated Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Davis Cup matches earlier this year—and Sam Querrey, who is quickly returning to the form that saw him ranked inside the top 20 early last year.

    With the Bryan brothers a near-lock to win the doubles rubber, all the United States had to do to advance to their first final since 2007 was split the singles matches. Without Nadal, the greatest clay-court player in tennis history, the Americans had a fighting chance at advancing.

    Well, at least the theory sounded good.

    On Friday, Ferrer topped Querrey in a four-set match, rebounding from dropping the first set to post a 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-4 win. It was up to Isner to draw the Americans even, and he fought valiantly, twice rallying from a set down to force a decisive fifth set.

    But in the end, Almagro emerged victorious, outlasting Isner 6-4 4-6 6-4 3-6 7-5 to give the Spaniards a 2-0 lead.

    Bob and Mike Bryan kept the United States alive with a 6-3 3-6 7-5 7-5 win over Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez on Saturday, but on Sunday, Ferrer again rallied from a set down to win, defeating Isner 6-7 (2) 6-3 6-4 6-2 and sending Spain to their fourth Davis Cup final in five years.

    The fifth and "dead" rubber between Almagro and Querrey was not played, so the final score was 3-1 in favor of Spain.

Czech Republic 3, Argentina 2

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    Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Surface: Outdoor clay

    Second-seeded Argentina, the runners-up last year, encountered little resistance reaching the semifinals stage, posting identical 4-1 scores against Germany and Croatia.

    The fifth-seeded Czech Republic also won their first two ties by a 4-1 score, defeating Italy and third-seeded Serbia.

    The two nations began play with Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro facing the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek, with del Potro prevailing in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 6-2. But Tomas Berdych—who broke through to the US Open semifinals last weekend—drew the Czechs even by coming from a set down to top Juan Monaco, 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-4 6-4.

    Berdych and Stepanek teamed up to defeat the Argentinian pair of Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank, 6-3 6-4 6-3, giving the Czechs a 2-1 lead.

    del Potro was scheduled to play Berdych, but was injured and could not compete. Berlocq stepped in for del Potro, but the drop-off was too steep to keep up with Berdych, who triumphed 6-3 6-3 6-4 to clinch the tie for the Czech Republic. In a "dead rubber match," Monaco topped Ivo Minar, 6-3 7-6 (2).

    With the victory, the Czechs advanced to their first Davis Cup final since 2009, and just like in 2009, they will play Spain. That final took place in Barcelona with the Spaniards posting a 5-0 victory, but this year's edition will take place in Ostrava, Czech Republic on the indoor carpet.

Kazakhstan 3, Uzbekistan 1

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    Where: Astana, Kazakhstan
    Surface: Indoor clay

    Kazakhstan suffered a 5-0 shutout in the first round of the Davis Cup, and if they wanted to return to the World Group, they had to defeat an Uzbekistan team that upset top-seeded India in the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I second round back in April.

    Uzbekistan got off a to great start, with Denis Istomin topping Evgeny Korolev in a five-setter, 6-3 4-6 6-2 0-6 6-3. But Mikhail Kukushkin drew the Kazakh team even with a 6-2 6-4 3-6 7-6 (5) win over Farrukh Dustov.

    Kazakhstan took the doubles point, as Andrey Golubev and Yuri Schukin took down Dustov and Istomin, 7-6 (3) 6-3 6-4. The Kazakhs then clinched a spot in next year's World Group with a Kukushkin win over Istomin, 6-4 6-2 6-7 (4) 6-2. The fifth and "dead" rubber between Korolev and Dustov was not played.

Germany 3, Australia 2

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    Where: Hamburg, Germany
    Surface: Outdoor clay

    Germany lost in the first round of the Davis Cup to second-seeded Argentina, 4-1. In order to avoid relegation, they would have to take down an Australian team that shut out South Korea 5-0 in the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I second round.

    The Germans did not get off to a great start, as the up-and-coming Bernard Tomic kicked off the tie by defeating Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in four sets, 2-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (4). But Florian Mayer leveled for Germany with a straight-set victory over former world no. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, 7-5 6-3 6-2.

    Australia took the doubles point, as Hewitt teamed with Chris Guccione to defeat the team of Benjamin Becker and Philipp Petzschner, 6-3 6-2 2-6 7-6 (4).

    But with relegation staring them in the face, the Germans rallied and took the final two rubbers, as Mayer topped Tomic 6-4 6-2 6-3 and Stebe breezed past Hewitt 6-4 6-1 6-4. Germany will play in the 2013 World Group.

Israel 3, Japan 2

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    Where: Tokyo, Japan
    Surface: Indoor hard

    In February, Japan and seventh-seeded Croatia played a decisive fifth rubber in their first-round tie. Ivo Karlovic topped Go Soeda 7-6 (4) 6-1 6-4 to send the Croats into the second round, where they would lose to second-seeded Argentina.

    After coming so close to guaranteeing a spot in the 2013 World Group, Japan would now have to deal with Israel, who defeated Portugal in the second round of Europe/Africa Zone Group I.

    Soeda got the Japanese off to a good start with a 6-2 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory over Dudi Sela, but the Israelis drew even after Amir Weintraub defeated Tatsuma Ito 6-3 6-2 6-4.

    The doubles team of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram put Israel in the lead with a 5-7 6-3 6-3 6-1 win over Ito and Yuichi Sugita, but facing relegation, Japan turned to their No. 1, Kei Nishikori, and he came through, rallying from a set down to outlast Sela in a five-setter, 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-4 7-5.

    The Japanese hopes of advancing to the 2013 World Group again came down to a decisive fifth rubber, and again, Japan could not secure the tie, as Weintraub defeated Soeda 6-3 7-6 (5) 4-6 6-3, sending the Israelis to the 2013 World Group.

    With the loss, Japan was relegated to Asia/Oceania Zone Group I.

Belgium 5, Sweden 0

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    Where: Brussels, Belgium
    Surface: Outdoor clay

    Sweden fell to third-seeded Serbia in the first round of the Davis Cup and was looking to avoid relegation. In order to do so, they would have to take down Belgium, who defeated Great Britain in the second round of Europe/Africa Zone Group I.

    Steve Darcis got the tie off to a great start for the Belgians, topping Michael Ryderstedt 6-3 7-6 (3) 6-0. David Goffin made it two wins for Belgium with a straight-set victory over Andres Vinciguerra, 6-4 6-3 7-5.

    Belgium continued to roll, taking the doubles point and clinching the tie in the process as Ruben Bemelmans and Olivier Rochus defeated Ryderstedt and Johan Brunstrom, 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-2.

    As is the cases for "dead rubber" matches, the format became a best-of-three for the final two contests. The Belgians were able to complete the sweep, with Goffin besting Markus Eriksson 6-3 6-4 and Darcis beating Vinciguerra, 6-4 6-2.

    Belgium will play in the World Group in 2013, while Sweden was relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group I.

Canada 4, South Africa 1

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    Where: Montreal, Canada
    Surface: Outdoor hard

    Canada lost in the first round to fourth-seeded France, 4-1, and with relegation on the line, faced a South African team that defeated Slovenia in the second round of Europe/Africa Zone Group I.

    Vasek Pospisil put the Canadians on the board to start the tie with a straight-sets win over Izak van der Merwe, 6-3 6-4 6-4. Next, Milos Raonic, who many consider to be the next "great," pushed Canada one step closer to the World Group with a 7-5 6-4 7-5 victory over Nikala Scholtz.

    South Africa took the doubles point, as van der Merwe and Raven Klaasen defeated Pospisil and Daniel Nestor, 6-4 7-6 (2) 7-6 (5).

    Only needing one match to advance to next year's World Group, Canada looked to Raonic to seal the deal, and he did just that, defeating van der Merwe 6-2 6-2 6-4 to move on. In the "dead rubber" match, Frank Dancevic came off the "bench" to top Scholtz, 6-2 6-2.

Brazil 5, Russia 0

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    Where: Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Brazil
    Surface: Outdoor clay

    Eighth-seeded Russia fell 3-2 to Austria in the first round, while Brazil defeated Colombia in the second round of Americas Zone Group I. Could the rising Brazilians relegate the Russians?

    Brazil took one step towards sending Russia to Europe/Africa Zone I early on, when Rogerio Dutra da Silva was up two sets to love on Igor Andreev (6-2 6-1) before Andreev retired. Thomaz Bellucci gave the Brazilians a cushion with a 6-3 4-6 6-0 7-6 (4) win over Teymuraz Gabashvili.

    Brazil clinched the tie and a spot in the 2013 World Group with a victory at doubles, as Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares—the latter coming off a mixed-doubles championship at the US Open with Russia's Ekaterina Makarova—defeated Gabashvili and Alex Bogomolov, Jr. 7-5 6-2 7-6 (7).

    With the fourth and fifth matches shortened, Bellucci topped Bogomolov Jr. 7-6 (4) 6-3, and Dutra da Silva defeated Stanislav Vovk, 6-2 6-2

Italy 4, Chile 1

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    Where: Napoli, Italy
    Surface: Outdoor clay

    Italy fell in the first round to the Czech Republic, 4-1, and in order to avoid relegation, they would have to beat a Chilean team that topped Uruguay in the second round of Americas Zone Group I.

    Andreas Seppi got the Italians off on the right foot by posting a 7-5 6-1 6-2 victory over Guillermo Hormazabal, and Fabio Fognini gave Italy a 2-0 lead by outlasting Paul Capdeville, 2-6 6-2 6-7 (8) 6-1 6-2.

    The Chileans got on the board by taking the doubles point, as Capdeville and Jorge Aguilar defeated Seppi and Daniele Bracciali, 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-2.

    But Seppi closed the door for the Italians, defeating Capdeville 6-3 6-1 6-3 to clinch the tie. In the "dead rubber match," Simone Bolelli topped Christian Garin, 6-4 6-3.

Switzerland 3, Netherlands 2

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    Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Surface: Outdoor clay

    Switzerland suffered a 5-0 shutout at the hands of the United States in the first round, with the lowlight being Roger Federer's four-set loss to John Isner. The Netherlands upset fourth-seeded Romania in the second round of Europe/Africa Zone Group 1, so the Swiss would have their hands full in trying to stave off relegation.

    Federer began proceedings with a straight-sets victory over Thiemo de Bakker, 6-3 6-4 6-4. Stanislas Wawrinka then defeated Robin Haase, 6-3 3-6 6-3 7-6 (4).

    Federer and Wawrinka fell in doubles to the pair of Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer, 4-6 2-6 7-5 6-3, but Federer clinched a spot in the 2013 World Group for Switzerland with a 6-1 6-4 6-4 victory over Haase. In the "dead rubber match," de Bakker topped Marco Chiudinelli, 6-2 7-6 (4).

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