Week 38 (Laver Cup)
The sixth edition of the Laver Cup took place in Vancouver, following previous stops in Prague, Chicago, Geneva, Boston, and London. Unfortunately for tennis enthusiasts eager to savor every moment of the event, much like two years ago, the competition concluded with the very first match on day three. In 2021, “Team Europe” dominated “Team World,” but this time, the tables were turned. Interestingly, the contest was more closely fought two years ago, with six matches going to “super tie-breaks,” of which the European team won five. This time, there were too many straight-set matches, which somewhat diminished the unique appeal of this event.
Team Europe was without the top three players in the world, and two other prominent Europeans; Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune were initially selected but had to withdraw due to injuries. In this context, the European team appeared somewhat haphazardly assembled. There seemed to be less chemistry among the teammates compared to the “American” team, three of whose players had contributed to the trophy a year ago. Among the three debutants in the team led by the McEnroe brothers, Ben Shelton made the most significant contribution, alongside Frances Tiafoe (his fourth appearance in the Laver Cup). Each of these two players secured a win in singles and two wins in doubles (the decisive three points they scored together). The next stop for the Laver Cup is Berlin.
After a four-year hiatus due to Covid-19, China has reopened its doors to tennis with two minor events. However, these events were held in a rather unconventional manner. Instead of the traditional Monday-to-Sunday format, they took place from Wednesday to Tuesday. This scheduling adjustment was made, in part, due to the fact that Shanghai will host its prestigious tournament over two weeks this year. If Aslan Karatsev had won his semifinal, both finals would have been composed of all Russian native speakers. Alexander Zverev, who claimed his 21st title, survived a scare in two matches being two points away from a straight sets defeat.
“Laver Cup” – Vancouver; hard indoors
World d. Europe 13-2
Chengdu (ATP 250; hard outdoors)
(1)🇩🇪Alexander Zverev d. 🇷🇺Roman Safiullin 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-3
Zhuhai (ATP 250; hard outdoors)
(1)🇷🇺Karen Khachanov d. (8)🇯🇵Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6(2), 6-1
Jason Stoltenberg , one of the most most accomplished junior players of the 1980s, fell short of his expectations in men’s tennis. Some have attributed his underwhelming performance to deteriorating eyesight. In 1993, inside the Top 100 he was one of only four players using corrective lenses, alongside the French players Stéphane Simian, Guillaume Raoux, and the German Karsten Braasch.
Stoltenberg’s victory in the Davis Cup semifinal on grass (Chandigarh) could be considered one of his most significant achievements at the time. In a straight-set triumph over Leander Paes, he saved five break points while trailing 0:3 in the second set. The other Indian player, 32-year-old Ramesh Krishnan , known for his playing style reminiscent of the 1970s, suffered a one-sided defeat in the second rubber against Wally Masur and subsequently decided to finish his career.
In the other semifinal, a complete shocker unfolded. The Swedish team, regarded as the best of the 1980s, failed to secure a single victory against Germany on their home turf. The Swedes had reason to expect a 2-0 lead after the first day in Borlänge, as Magnus Gustafsson had previously defeated Michael Stich in the Stuttgart final a few months earlier, on clay. Stich demonstrated that, in his case, the distinction between outdoor and indoor conditions was more crucial than the specific surface, and he exacted his revenge in four sets under the roof. In the second rubber, Mark-Kevin Goellner defeated Stefan Edberg, arguably delivering the match of his career in the “best of five” format.
In both ties, the host teams suffered decisive losses in doubles, with tie-breaks required in straight-set defeats. The players from India didn’t even win a set during the weekend, Swedes won just two.
The most closely contested tie in the World Group play-offs occurred in Christchurch as New Zealand succumbed to Austria with a score of 2-3. The Austrian team, without the fatigued Thomas Muster, managed to secure a decisive victory as Alex Antonitsch emerged triumphant in a five-setter (being a few points from a 4-set defeat) that included three tie-breaks. It was a somber weekend for Goran Prpić . The 29-year-old Croatian gave his all in Copenhagen but lost in five sets in singles on Friday and in doubles on Saturday. On Sunday, in the deciding rubber, he came close to playing another five-setter but was ultimately forced to retire. It marked his final match at the main level, as chronic issues with his right knee got the better of him. The most surprising upset unfolded in Tel Aviv as Switzerland, the Davis Cup ’92 runner-up, fell to Israel despite having two of their main players; Amos Mansdorf emerged as the weekend hero, defeating them both.
Semifinals (host first)
India – Australia 0-5, Sweden – Germany 0-5
This entry was posted in Tournaments
. Bookmark the permalink