WARSAW, POLAND: Polish dreams of reaching the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group for the first time suffered a massive blow in Warsaw on Friday, as the host nation lost its two opening singles rubbers against opponents Australia.
The weekend hadn’t got off to the greatest of starts for the Poles, with star player Jerzy Janowicz withdrawn from the tie because a back complaint, and things were soon to get worse as newly promoted No. 1, Lukasz Kubot rapidly fell in straight sets 61 63 62 to Australian No. 2 Lleyton Hewitt in the opening match of the play-off.
The 32-year-old Aussie rolled back the years in his match against the world No. 70, bouncing around the court and striking his service returns and baseline shots with venom and accuracy. “I went out there with great intensity and purpose from the start,” he remarked after the match. “They were good tactics out there and I hit the ball great,” he said.
Unfortunately for Kubot, who finished with 60 unforced errors for the match, the only thing he managed to strike with any regularity was the net. “I was trying to play some drop shots to change the rhythm,” he explained afterwards. “But Lleyton was too solid and he well deserved this win today,” he added.
A little less than two hours after it started, the rubber was over and Australia was one nil up.
The pressure then understandably fell on Michal Przysiezny, who was named shortly before yesterday’s draw to stand in for Janowicz and was facing Australian No.1 Bernard Tomic in the day’s second singles rubber.
The world No. 113 fared much better in the opening stanza of his match against Tomic than Kubot had against Hewitt, and he matched his young Australian counterpart game for game until the eleventh of the first set, before eventually being broken.
The 20-year-old Tomic had shown good form on clay in Uzbekistan in April, winning his two Davis Cup singles matches there to help his team to a 3-1 victory, and he once more demonstrated good form in the competition. His serve, in particular, contributed to his strong showing in the rubber; a fact he freely admitted at its completion. “I served probably the best I’ve served the last four or five months,” he said.
At 6-5 up in the set, the tall Australian then served it out.
The second set saw the two players again trade games. The languid Tomic, clearly full of confidence with his team one up and leading by the same score in his own match, seemed to have plenty of time around the court and was content to rally from the baseline.
The 29-year-old Przysiezny was similarly happy to sit back and wait for his opportunities and the set soon moved into a tie-break. Unsurprisingly, Tomic’s serve was to prove the decisive factor and an ace at 2-1 in the tie-break paved the way for him to take it 7-1 and with it the set.
Having put up valiant resistance only to fall short in the first two sets, it was always going to be a tough task for Przysiezny to muster enough verve to win the third. Tomic, seemingly sensing this, and egged on enthusiastically by his team, then broke Pole in the first game of the set. From there he strolled to a comfortable 6-4 win to take the match in straight sets 75 76 64.
The Poles have never come back from two nil down in tie, and now must hope for the near miraculous if they are to do so.
Australia on the other hand, go into tomorrow’s crucial doubles rubber between the Polish pair of Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione with a fantastic chance of wrapping it up with a day to spare.
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Bernard Tomic (AUS) - 13/9/13
Michal Przysiezny (POL) - 13/9/13
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) - 13/9/13
Lukasz Kubot (POL) - 13/9/13