It’s a tie that Poland has been talking about for nearly six months and, with its Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off with Australia now just around the corner, Marcin Matkowski insists that Poland is ready to seize its first opportunity to get into the World Group on 13-15 September.
With Australia desperate to return to the top tier of the competition for the first time since 2007 after losing its last five World Group play-offs, Matkowski believes the Polish team can inflict further misery on Pat Rafter’s men and seal a historic World Group berth on home soil in Warsaw.
“We feel very confident before our tie,” said 32-year-old Matkowski. “We have a great singles player in [Jerzy] Janowicz. He’s playing very well and he can beat anybody right now. We have Lukasz Kubot who always plays great in Davis Cup, and Mariusz [Fyrstenberg] and I have played Davis Cup for the last 12 years.
“We feel very good before the tie. It’s huge. It’s the first time we’ve played a World Group play-off. It’s a home tie, which is great, against one of the best teams ever, Australia, who have won numerous Davis Cup titles. We’ll play in Warsaw, so it will be a packed house. We’ve been talking about this tie since the draw came out. Everybody is excited.”
And they have good reason to be, not least because they have a strong chance of winning after the recent surge in fortunes of their No. 1 singles player, Janowicz, who already owns a 15-6 singles record in his 11 Davis Cup ties for Poland.
Janowicz may have been a part of the Polish team since 2008 but over the last 12 months the 22-year-old from Lodz has developed into a major force in the men’s game, reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Paris last November, the semifinals at Wimbledon in July and playing his part in Poland’s five-match Davis Cup winning streak that dates back to the start of 2012.
“Obviously it was only last year [Janowicz] started having great results on tour but he’s been playing well in this competition for the last 4-5 years,” said Matkowski. “He loves playing Davis Cup and we have very good chemistry between all of us. He’s our leader now obviously with his results but everybody is still friendly with each other. We’re good friends off the court and I think that works very well for us as a team.”
Poland has enjoyed the lion’s share of its Davis Cup success on a hard court, including winning its last three ties on the surface, but the nation will host the upcoming tie on clay at Warsaw’s Torwar Hall. Radoslaw Szymanik’s men have not won a tie on the surface since 2007, nor a home tie on clay since 2005, but Matkowski believes the dirt affords Poland’s best chance of success against Australia.
“Obviously we chose it to play a little bit into the weaknesses of our opponents,” admitted Matkowski. “Australia’s worst surface seems to be clay. It was our first option to choose it, we discussed it and we decided to go for it.
“We feel good on clay,” he added. “Our tour results show that. Jerzy can beat anybody – he beat [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga and [Richard] Gasquet [on clay] in Rome this year and he had a good match with Stanislas Wawrinka at Roland Garros.”
Should the host nation defeat a strong Australian side that could feature world No. 52 Bernard Tomic, who has a 10-2 record in Davis Cup singles, and former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, Matkowski believes Poland will have completed an achievement that would have been unthinkable several years ago.
“To be able to say that Poland is a part of the World Group would be great,” he said. “In men’s tennis, a few years ago nobody could imagine it. We’re one match away so it’s a very close possibility and everybody is very excited.
“We love playing Davis Cup and the whole build up to Davis Cup is very good. It’s just great that the draw went our way, we didn’t have to go to Australia and can play in Poland where everybody will be cheering for us.”