ULM, GERMANY: Daniel Brands capped his Davis Cup by BNP Paribas debut with a comprehensive victory over Brazilian No. 1 Thomaz Bellucci to complete a 3-1 win that secures Germany’s place in Wednesday’s World Group draw.
Having won both of the opening singles rubbers, Germany returned after yesterday’s defeat in the doubles requiring one win from the remaining two matches. Brands – called in to replace Philipp Kohlschreiber in the fourth rubber after the German No. 1 withdrew on Sunday through illness – delivered in style with a 64 62 63 win that more than atoned for his nervous display on Saturday.
Brands only learnt he was set to play two hours before the match. “I had to focus, I called my coach and we had a good talk,” he said. “All in all it was a really good day today.”
Bellucci, reportedly nursing a right shoulder injury, put pressure on the Brands serve from the outset with some sharp returns, but the German hit back to save four break points early on as his flat drives began to force Bellucci off the baseline. The world No. 116 was left to rue his wasted chances when Brands zoned in on his backhand at 4-5 and drew the error to reach set point, which Bellucci relinquished with a double-fault.
Captain Joao Zwetch did his best to help Bellucci regroup, but he fell to a second successive break after Brands had saved another early break point. From that point on Brands took control, opening his shoulders from the baseline and feathering his volleys past the Brazilian. At one point he stumbled trying to reach a drop shot, recovered and still managed to flick the ball past Bellucci’s outstretched racket.
“I didn’t play well with the many chances that I had,” Bellucci conceded. “He just played much better than me on the big points.”
Once again Brands broke to claim the set and was marching towards victory when he opened up a 3-1 lead in the third, but the statutory wobble returned as he served for the match. Winners, errors, a match point ruled out by a late call and a break point brought up by an over-rule – the final game had it all, along with the odd flash of brilliance from both men. In the end, Brands wrapped up a sterling first Davis Cup victory with a forehand winner after one hour 55 minutes.
“The last game was a mess, but that’s tennis: you have to play every point,” Brands said. “That was my job today and I did it – quite well.”
As for Bellucci, this may be the last time he is seen on court this season. The 25-year-old expects to be sidelined for at least a month with his shoulder injury, if not longer.
“The first match I played with a lot of pain and today was worse,” he admitted. “It’s not easy – we have two doubles players and two singles players, we have no options like Germany had, but it happens. When you’re playing for your country you have to manage these kind of things.”
German captain Carsten Arriens praised Brands’ display and noted the importance of vice-captain Michael Kohlmann in Ulm as part of the new-look 2013 team.
“That’s tough, to go out in front of a home crowd in the Davis Cup, to win the deciding match,” Arriens said of Brands. “The way he did it was very calm, very professional, he stayed in contact with me – I like that attitude.”
On Kohlmann, he added: “To work with another coach, doctor and physio who can give me clear feedback, that’s very important. There are little situations where I am not 100% clear and I need someone who has an opinion to say, do it this way. For that, I can always count on Michael."
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Captain Carsten Arriens (GER) - 15/09/2013
Daniel Brands (GER) - 15/09/2013
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) - 15/09/2013