Tiafoe was furiousNetherlands beat USA, eyes final week of Davis Cup Botic van de Zandschulp was reborn on the trail. “It took me five months to play like that again.”
No country has won the Davis Cup more times than the United States, no fewer than 32 times. And with four players in the global top 20 tennis players, captain Bob Bryan has plenty to choose from. But just like last year, the team was no match for the Netherlands, a relatively modest tennis nation. The world numbers 11 and 13 lost in the group stage of the final in Split to Dalen Greek Spur and Botik van de Santsulp, world numbers 24 and 68 respectively.
The latter expressed early hope that a week at the Davis Cup, away from the private tour, would be the antidote to end a sharp decline in his career. That solution still didn’t work against Finland on Tuesday. Against Otto Virtanen, a player outside the top 100, he felt the pressure to win the opening match. Everything fell into place against Tommy Ball yesterday. On paper he has nothing to lose and it often works out well for him.
Van de Santsulp (27) was reborn on the track. Great serve percentage, hard hits from the baseline, quick feet and tight volleys. Be sure to include the mental component: back straight, head and shoulders up, and an occasional fist pump or smile. The complete player we’ve known in recent years was here, but he’s been gone for a while. He was never in trouble against the world number 13, winning 7-6 6-2 to give the Netherlands a 1-0 lead.
“It took five months to play like that again,” he said. Things went wrong in the final against Holger Run in Munich in April. Van de Santsulp missed four match points. As if that wasn’t enough, ‘something’ kicked him and injured his leg. The bone injury did not heal immediately, so van de Sandschulp did not get into a pleasant competitive rhythm, and at the same time he succeeded in it. This was followed by an ankle injury in July. Summer was gone as he disappointed in three Grand Slams.
But in tennis, momentum can change over the course of a year in a tournament, especially if it’s largely devoid of confidence. Due to injuries, van de Santsulp was unable to work constructively with his new coach Sven Groeneveld for a long time. The coming months, with many intense tournaments and the Davis Cup final on the calendar, will be perfect for this.
The Greek track completes the job
After van de Santsulp it is Dalan Kriekpoor’s turn (27). In the first set, he was outclassed by world number 11 Francis Tiafoe, a quarter-finalist at last week’s US Open. The American, who has terrible stats in the Davis Cup environment, fought back. It turned into an intense battle in the third set, ending in a tiebreak, with the well-played Greek Spoor eventually the rightful winner: 6-3, 6-7, 7-6.
The outcome of the match was interesting. Down 6-2 in the tiebreak, Tiafoe received a warning from the umpire for smashing his racket. He was fined because he already had a warning to his name. This means that Mosspur no longer have to play to cash in on their match point. “A great match, I played well. You don’t want to end a high quality match like this, but I’m glad we won.”
As a result, the Netherlands already have an unbreakable 2-0 lead against the United States and Davis Cup coach Paul Harhuis is on course to qualify for the final weekend of the country, just like last year. End of November in Malaga.
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