Monday March 9th, 2015

Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Last week,Timea Bacsinskzy took home her second title in two weeks at the Monterrey Open, Caroline Wozniacki won her first title since July of last year and teams competed in the first round of Davis Cup around the world.

Trophy winners

Caroline Wozniacki: Wozniacki won her first title since July of last year, cruising to the final at the Malaysian Open after losing just one set all week. She defeated Alexandra Dulgheru 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to win her 23rd WTA title, which puts her fourth among active players in titles won behind Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. 

Timea Bacsinskzy: A week after winning her first WTA title of the season, Bacsinszky wins her second straight. The Swiss battled her way to the title at the Monterrey Open, winning four of her five matches in tight three setters. She defeated No. 2 seed Sara Errani 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals and then rallied to defeat Caroline Garcia 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the final for her 12th win in a row. She moves up to a new career-high of No. 26. 

More aces

James Ward: For the second consecutive year, Ward delivered the key win to help Great Britain defeat the United States in the first round of Davis Cup. This time the No. 111 outlasted No. 20 John Isner for nearly five hours to win 6-7 (4), 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 15-13 on Day 1. Ward, who has never broken into the Top 100, played with tremendous poise in front of the enthusiastic home crowd in Glasgow. As the match wore on he looked fit enough to play for hours, while Isner clearly struggled with fatigue. After Andy Murray came through with two singles wins, Great Britain advanced to face France in the quarterfinals. 

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Davis Cup recap: Great Britain hands United States another first-round loss

Bernard Tomic: Tomic didn't lose a set over the weekend and notched wins over Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely to lead Australia to a 3-2 upset win over the Czech Republic. Semifinalists last year, the Czechs were without their top player Tomas Berdych.

Team France and Serbia: These two teams are the favorites to meet in the Davis Cup final and they took care of business in the first round. Led by No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Serbia swept Croatia 5-0 and France won their first three rubbers to clinch the tie on Day 2. Gilles Simon beat Jan-Lennard Struff 10-8 in the fifth, Gael Monfils defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (4) and France's team of Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut sealed the tie with a straight set win on Saturday.

Team Belgium: Belgium knocked out the defending champions Switzerland 3-2 thanks to David Goffin's straight set win the decisive fifth rubber over No. 321 Adrien Bossel. Goffin's off-the-bench performance (he sat out Day 1 due to a back injury) put Belgium into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, where the team will face Canada at home.

Team Kazakhstan: When it comes to countries that find a way to over-perform at Davis Cup in recent years, look no further than Kazakhstan. Behind No. 130 Aleksandr Nedovyesov​'s stunning 7-6(5), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 22 Fabio Fognini in the fifth rubber, Kazakhstan upset last year's semifinalists Italy. In addition to Nedovyesov's decisive win, Mikhail Kukushkin went 2-0 on the weekend, with wins over Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi in straight sets.

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Team Canada: Milos Raonic may be the face of Canadian tennis, but it was Vasek Pospisil who came through big to give Canada a 3-2 win over Japan. After Raonic earned his team its first point with a straight set win over Tatsuma Ito, Pospisil teamed up with Daniel Nestor to earn a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win in Saturday's doubles to give Canada a 2-1 lead going into Sunday. Raonic couldn't close it out though, as No. 4 Kei Nishikori beat him 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to force a fifth. In the end, Pospisil came through for Canada and sealed the win with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Go Soeda.

Team Argentina: Argentina's home tie against Brazil had everything. A rowdy crowd, the longest singles match in Davis Cup history and a tense fifth rubber that was suspended for light. When the tie resumed Monday, Federico Delbonis clinched the win for the Argentines, beating Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. The tie really came down to the fourth rubber. Brazil's Joao Sousa had a chance to clinch the upset for Brazil, but finally succumbed after six hours and 43 minutes to Leonardo Mayer, 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13. The match would have been the longest match in tennis history if not for John Isner's 2010 Wimbledon win over Nicolas Mahut in 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days.

Caroline Garcia: She may have lost the final (again) to Bacsinszky (again), but it's been a strong two weeks for Garcia in Mexico. She routed top seed Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals of the Monterrey Open, winning 6-1, 6-4, and narrowly lost to Bacsinszky in the final, losing 6-4 in the third. 

Faults

The U.S. Davis Cup team: For two years now the Americans came into a first-round tie as the favorites and walked away with a loss. No one expects an American team to take a point from Murray in singles, but the challenge for the U.S. was far easier than that: Beat a sub-100 player twice and rely on the top-ranked duo of Bob and Mike Bryan to deliver the third point in doubles. The Bryans have delivered on their part of the deal, but the U.S. has never even been able to get it to the decisive fifth rubber, which would pit the British No. 2 singles player against the American No. 2 singles player. Ward defeated Sam Querrey in San Diego last year and this year he took down Isner. There's no doubt that Ward  elevated his game in both matches, but these losses are inexcusable for the Americans and especially for Isner, who led two-sets to love on Friday only to lose 15-13 in the fifth.

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Team Switzerland: It was not exactly a resounding follow-up to their hard-earned title in 2014. Without Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss became the ninth team since 1972 to win the Davis Cup title and then lose in the first round the following year. The highest ranked singles player the Swiss nominated was No. 292 Yann Marti. But after Captain Severin Luthi opted not to put Marti in on Day 1, Marti reportedly quit the team in protest. 

Team Italy: What in the world was Italy thinking? Just two weeks ago, top player Fabio Fognini beat Rafael Nadal to make the final in Rio. But he was benched on Day 1—the cited logic was Captain Barazzutti was that Bolelli had been playing more recently on hard courts and the surface switch would be too tough on Fognini—which moved Andreas Seppi to the No. 1 position and Simone Bolelli to No. 2. The teams split the first two matches and Fognini came in to help earn the doubles point to give the Italians a 2-1 lead heading into Sunday. But the Italians were swept on Sunday, punctuated by Fognini's five-set loss to a player ranked over 100 spots below him. If Barazzutti puts Fognini in on Day 1, do the Italians walk away with a 3-0 win? It's a thought. 

Ana Ivanovic: The top seed crashed out in a listless performance against Garcia in the Monterrey semifinals. She hasn't been the same player since losing to Sharapova in the Brisbane International final, compiling a 4-3 record since then. 

​Photo of the week

DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images

Video of the week

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3S8sL3b_dI]

Vine of the week

Sam Querrey and his band of horses:

In case you missed it

- Andy Murray was in good spirits after Team Great Britain's win, joking to Eurosport presenter Annabel Croft that his teammate Dominic Inglot might be celebrating with a "little girlfriend" on the side after the match. Turns out, Inglot actually does have a girlfriend and Murray expressed his mortification by laughing hysterically:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QKH1tcjwoI]

- On commentary in Britain, Miles Maclagan ripped Jim Courier for wearing a suit on the sidelines. I don't think Courier's sartorial choices affected Isner's legs in that match.

​- How about this form from Jagger Leach, Lindsay Davenport and Jon Leach's son. 

- The Nicole Vaidisova comeback continues slowly and steadily. She successfully qualified for her first WTA main draw since 2010, losing to Ivanovic in straight sets. 

- After his Davis Cup heroics, Goffin has withdrawn from Indian Wells. 

Passing shots

- Three of last year's four Davis Cup semifinalists—Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic—are out in the first round. Two of those countries, Switzerland and the Czechs, couldn't get their top stars to commit. Without continuity, Davis Cup gets tougher and tougher to get into every year. 

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- It's so great to see Bacsinszky back and playing top-quality tennis. The Swiss prodigy succumbed to the pressure of trying to win just to keep her parents' marriage together as a teenager, and has now discovered her passion for the game on her own terms. Read more about her journey here

- Mardy Fish will return to competition this week at Indian Wells and he's remained open to discussing his own battles with mental illness. An important discussion to pull out of the shadows of sports.  

- Britain vs. France in Glasgow should be a fun one that could come down to who wins the doubles tie. Is it July yet? 

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