1904 rematch: Britain sets up Davis Cup final vs Belgium
It's like 1904 all over again in the Davis Cup.
Britain and Belgium clinched 3-2 victories in the semifinals of tennis' premier team competition on Sunday to set up a rematch of their final 111 years ago - the last time Belgium reached the title match. Britain won 5-0 that time and will be the favorite again in November courtesy of Andy Murray, who defeated Bernard Tomic of Australia in the first reverse singles to give Britain an unassailable lead.
Murray earned all three points for Britain in Glasgow, Scotland, after winning both his singles matches and teaming with brother Jamie to take a tough five-setter in Saturday's doubles.
Steve Darcis put Belgium through by beating Federico Delbonis of Argentina in the fifth and decisive match in the other semifinal in Brussels.
Britain reached its first final in 37 years as Murray shrugged of a sore back to beat Tomic 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
''I wasn't really thinking about history or anything like that, I was just concentrating on the points,'' Murray said. ''I'm obviously delighted to get through. We knew it would be an incredibly difficult match to win, Australia have great depth and experience.''
Darcis had lost his opening singles match and the doubles on Saturday as Argentina built a 2-1 lead, but finally grabbed a point with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3) win in a deafening atmosphere at the Forest National.
Earlier, Belgium's No. 1 player David Goffin defeated Diego Schwartzman to draw Belgium level.
''For our small country it's pretty good. For me, it's really big. I fight and I fight and this time I had the win,'' Darcis said. ''David Goffin played great, he gave me the chance to finish the job.''
The final will be played Nov. 27-29.
In the World Group playoffs, the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and Italy were among the teams to clinch a spot in the top tier of the competition next year.
Roger Federer secured Switzerland's victory over the Netherlands by beating 144th-ranked Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 for a decisive 3-1 lead.
Switzerland won its first Davis Cup title last year with both Federer and Stan Wawrinka on the team, but was in danger of falling out of the World Group after both players skipped the first-round tie against Belgium in March, which the Swiss lost.
Though both Federer and Wawrinka showed up against the Netherlands to keep Switzerland in the World Group, neither has committed to playing again next year.
''My idea was never to win it twice. The idea was always to win it once and we did that,'' Federer said Sunday. ''It was a great moment for us all.''
The Americans will be back in the World Group for the 27th year in a row after Jack Sock, playing on his first Davis Cup team, beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in Tashkent.
''Obviously, my first Davis Cup, being a rookie, to come in and get two wins and play two solid matches for me, gives me a lot of confidence,'' Sock said.
Japan's Taro Daniel won the first Davis Cup match of his career, beating Colombian veteran Alejandro Falla 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2 on the road to secure his country's place in the World Group with a 3-2 victory. Japan's No. 1 player, Kei Nishikori, had earlier won his reverse singles match to level the tie at 2-all.
''It's a pretty high pressure match,'' Daniel said. ''The pressure was on both of us, but I think he was feeling it a little more. He had a little more to lose than I had.''
Poland reached the World Group for the first time in Davis Cup history after Michal Przysiezny defeated Slovakia's Norbert Gombos 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to clinch the rubber 3-2 at home.
The Czech Republic also won its playoff against India, with Jiri Vesely sealing the victory with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Yuki Bhambri.
In other playoff matches, Germany beat the Dominican Republic 4-1 and Italy defeated Russia by the same score. Croatia topped Brazil 3-1.
Spain, meanwhile, completed a 5-0 win over Denmark to remain in Group I next year. With the tie already decided after Saturday's doubles win, Rafael Nadal sat out the reverse singles on Sunday.
This story has been corrected to show that Poland, not Slovakia, has advanced to World Group next year.