Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Last week, Switzerland and France booked their spots in the Davis Cup final and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni won one for the ages.
Team Switzerland: Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka put Switzerland into the the Davis Cup final for the first time since 1992 with a 4-1 win over Italy in Geneva. Federer and Wawrinka didn't lose a set in their singles matches on Day 1, the Italians scored their single point in the doubles on Day 2, and then Federer clinched the tie on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Fabio Fognini. This of course sets up a big storyline for November, as Federer will try to fill one of the few remaining gaps in his overflowing resume. And not to be overshadowed, it's a big opportunity for Wawrinka as well, who has remained committed to the competition despite Federer's wavering interest.
The tennis at the Davis Cup semifinals wasn't great -- blame fatigue and the transition to a fast indoor court -- but the 18,000 Swiss fans didn't care. And for a guy who always relegated Davis Cup as a tertiary priority, Federer's beaming smile as he was paraded around the court on his teammates shoulders was just another reminder of the power of playing for your country. Switzerland will play France in Lille, France on November 21st for the Davis Cup title.
Check out this Federer hot shot from the weekend:
Team France: I'll be the first to admit I did not see a 5-0 drubbing of the Czech Republic coming, especially in a tie that did not even require Gael Monfils to suit up for a live rubber. But Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet got the job done, with Gasquet playing the role of hero on Day 1. Gasquet, who now sits behind Monfils on the French depth chart at No. 21, rolled past No. 7 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in singles. He then paired with Tsonga to beat the nearly-unbeatable team of Berdych and Radek Stepanek in four sets to clinch the tie. With that the two-time defending champions were out and France earned a chance to play for its 10th Davis Cup title. The last time they were in the final was in 2010 (when they lost to Serbia) and the last time they won was 2001.
Meanwhile, is there anything more fun that putting Monfils in a meaningless match and watching him go? You have to see this leaping-tweener passing shot:
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni: For the first time in over 16 years, Lucic-Baroni got her hands on a trophy. The 32-year-old Croat climbed back into the Top 100 after making the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time since she made the Wimbledon semifinals in 1999, but on Sunday she thoroughly outplayed Venus Williams, winning 6-4, 6-3 in Quebec City. She also won the doubles title with Lucie Hradecka and is now up to No. 56 in the rankings.
Sabine Lisicki: The German won her first title in over three years, beating Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-3 to win the Hong Kong Open -- but it wasn't easy. Lisicki came back from 6-3, 4-2 down to Monica Niculescu in the first round and from a break down in the third set to Francesca Schiavone in the semifinals. Against Pliskova she fell behind 5-1 in the first set before winning 12 of the last 15 games.
Karin Knapp: The 89th ranked Italian won her first career title at the Tashkent Open, beating defending champion Bojana Jovanovski 6-2, 7-6 (4). She didn't lose a set all week.
Team USA: The U.S. had no problem with Slovakia, winning 5-0 in Chicago to extend its streak in the World Group to 26 years. John Isner and Sam Querrey won their singles and Bob and Mike Bryan posted one of their most lopsided Davis Cup wins with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 win over Norbert Gombos and Lukas Lacko.
Team Serbia: Without Novak Djokovic, a young Serb team anchored by Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic were able to overcome a solid challenge by India to win 3-2 in a dramatic and rain-delayed tie. Serbia took a 2-0 lead after Day 1 and led two-sets to love in Saturday's doubles when Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna came back to win 1-6, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 8-6. Somdev Devvarman then leveled the tie by beating Lajovic in five sets on Sunday, 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Serbia's chances fell to Krajinovic in the decisive fifth rubber and the 22-year-old, who played in his first live Davis Cup rubber just this weekend, came through. He took the first two sets before the rain came and then closed out the win when the match resumed on Monday.
Thomaz Bellucci: The Brazilian, now at No. 82, went into this weekend's Davis Cup tie against Spain having won back-to-back matches just once since April. The highest ranked player he beat this year was No. 36 Ivan Dodig. Even against Spain's C-team, Brazil didn't look like it had a chance. But Bellucci's wins over No. 44 Pablo Andujar and No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut earned Brazil the upset of the weekend.
Marin Cilic: The U.S. Open champion was called into action for Croatia and he came through. Croatia was down 2-1 after the first day when Cilic stepped in to help win the doubles and then win the decisive fifth rubber on Sunday, beating Thiemo de Bakker 7-6(4), 4-6, 2-6, 5-7 to put Croatia back in the World Group. Next year's World Group is looking strong, with Canada, Australia, and Argentina also winning this weekend.
Carlos Berlocq: He clinched a 3-2 win for Argentina over Israel. That's great. But stop with the shirt-ripping, man:
Team Spain: Captain Carlos Moya was without the services Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, but his Spanish squad still had the quality to get past Brazil. An injury to Marcel Granollers was definitely a blow in both singles and doubles, but Spain is now out of the World Group for the first time in 18 years.
Venus Williams: The top seed in Quebec City, Williams fell short of her second title of the season in losing to Lucic-Baroni in the final. She's 1-3 in finals this year.
Photo of the week
In case you missed it
- Victor Troicki is back in the top 200 after winning his second ATP Challenger title since his comeback. That's a jump of over 600 spots since he returned from his doping ban in July.
- For those who are interested in such things, here's Tsonga's girlfriend, who got a lot of paparazzi attention this weekend:
- The WTA was all over New York Fashion Week, with Serena Williams releasing her clothing line on the runway, Caroline Wozniacki bouncing from show to show, and Ana Ivanovic photo-blogging for Vogue.
- 18,000 fans packed the arena in Geneva for the Switzerland-Italy Davis Cup match-up. French fans filled Court Philippe Chatrier to cheer on their squad against the Czech Republic. The Brazilian Davis Cup captain had to take the umpire's mic to quiet the crowd after they were warned for being too rowdy and rude. But meanwhile, in Chicago:
- Next year's Davis Cup could be great, depending on who will actually make themselves available to play (Olympic qualifying requirements may boost participation). Will we see Djokovic? Federer? Murray? Del Potro? Then there are the young teams like Kei Nishikori's Japan and Milos Raonic's Canada. Could be fun.
- If you're Nadal or Ferrer, are you breathing a sigh of relief now that Spain is out of World Group?