Aussies On Brink in Davis CupMarch 11, 2015

The Australian Davis Cup team might win their first cup in twelve years.

The first round of the 2015 Davis Cup last weekend produced some unexpected results. Switzerland, the defending champion, was out. Kazakhstan stunned Italy. Australia defeated the Czech Republic. Some would point out that Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, who guided the Swiss team to their first title last November, didn't play in Liège. If the Italians and Kazakhs played in clay, then the outcome would have been different. As for the Czech team, Tomáš Berdych and Radek ŠtÄ›pánek were missing.

Nick Kyrgios, the current top-ranked Aussie player, pulled out with back injury. This would leave Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis to play the singles. Both won their opening matches against JiÅ™í Veselý and Lukáš Rosol respectively. Tony Roche, a four-time Davis Cup champion, liked their chances this year.

"When John Newcombe and myself took over the team (in 1994), we had to start over from scratch and it did take us a few years to develop a good culture in the team," he said.

"But I think we're at that point right now with these three guys."

Australia last hoisted the Davis Cup in 2003, with Lleyton Hewitt and Todd Woodbridge being part of the victorious team. It was 2005 when the Aussies last reached the quarterfinals of the World Group. Australia will host Kazakhstan, where they have a good chance of advancing to the semifinals. The victorious team will meet the winner of the other quarterfinal match between France and Great Britain.

The rest of the story

*Switzerland may be relegated next year, its 2-3 loss to Belgium not unexpected. Federer decided not to commit to Davis Cup play this year, and last year's finals might be his final appearance. Wawrinka, on the other hand, would be available later this year. Their chances of remaining in the World Group depend on the play-offs.

*Andy Murray clinched the tie against United States, defeating John Isner in three sets, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). Great Britain will meet France, last year's finalist. The two-time Grand Slam winner doesn't want to look far ahead, but it's possible that the British team will go far.

*Leonardo Mayer of Argentina defeated João Souza of Brazil in five sets, which lasted 6 hours and 42 minutes. It set the record for the longest Davis Cup singles rubber, eclipsing the match between John McEnroe and Mats Wilander (in 1982) by 20 minutes. Argentina won the tie.

*Kei Nishikori defeated Milos Raonic, but Canada emerged triumphant. Vasek Pospisil beat Go Saeda in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4, clinching the winning point for the home team. Belgium is next, and the Canadians will likely reach their second semifinals in three years.

*Novak Djokovic led Serbia to a 5-0 win over Croatia in Kraljevo. The Serbians, the 2011 winner, are the slight favourites at the moment.

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