Despite having a negative record against Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo, Thomaz Bellucci produced a flawless performance and took the decisive point that takes Brazil to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-offs.
Bellucci won 62 76(3) 62 in 2 hours 18 minutes to the delight of the crowd that filled the stands of the Harmonia Tennis Club in Sao Jose do Rio Preto.
The Brazilian started the match in control by breaking Giraldo’s service with some excellent returns and a consistent baseline game. Bellucci soon built a comfortable 4-0 lead after two very solid service games and another break in the third game.
The Brazilian did not lose control of the first set in any moment and took it eventually. This moment marked the start of the party in the stands where the crowd was absolutely devoted to their No. 1 player.
In the second set, Giraldo managed to raise his level and put pressure on the local player, who started having difficulties to hold his service. Yet, the Brazilian had the best chance for a break in a sixth game in which he had five break points that were all saved by Giraldo.
The break did not happen and the second set went into a tiebreak. The Colombian No. 1 took an early 3-1 lead but the local idol reacted, pushed by the enormous support from the stands, and won all the remaining points to take the tiebreak 7-3.
Giraldo was at this point visibly nervous and showing signs of a calf injury. The pressure from the stands was also difficult to cope with for the visiting player; there even was a samba band among the crowd that put the music to a party that continued later in the streets of the emerging city of Sao Jose, one of the richest places in Brazil.
Far from relaxing, Bellucci started the third set with the same intensity as in the first set and did not waste his break chances in the fifth game to open a 4-2 lead. The Brazilian then held his service and broke Giraldo again to take the match.
“I stated with determination, trying to be in control of the points from the beginning. Giraldo is a great player and I couldn’t give him any chance. I went direct to the jugular, without letting him breathe. That was our strategy. We couldn’t have done otherwise because he is too dangerous. I am happy. It was the victory of a team and a crowd that never stopped believing in us,” declared an emotional Bellucci.
Joao Souza beat Robert Farah 46 63 64 in the fifth rubber leaving an overall score of 4-1.
Chile will fight for return to World Group
Having grown up under the shadow of Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu in the Chilean Davis Cup team, Paul Capdeville (No. 119) dreamt of a weekend like the one that he has lived in Montevideo. The 29-year-old, currently Chile’s No. 1, had only played non-decisive matches except for a few occasions.
The highlight of his career was a win over John Isner in the Estadio Nacional´s centre court but Capdeville owed himself a decisive performance that changed the outcome of a tie. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday he has paid himself this debt by winning all three points in Chile’s 3-1 victory over Uruguay at the Carrasco Lawn Tennis Club that grants the Chileans a place in the World Group play-offs in September.
The fourth point of the tie was the ideal moment for Capdeville to adopt the hero role. The match started well for the Chilean, who took the first set, but Marcel Felder reacted and seemed on course to a victory for the locals after winning the second and third partials. Eventually, the victory was for Capdeville 62 46 26 62 63 in almost four hours of play.
“I knew that the match was going to be difficult, but I managed to recover,” said Capdeville. “There was a moment in which I felt that my shots were not doing any harm. Maybe I was too anxious after winning the first set. Maybe I lowered my pace because I started hitting the ball harder than I should and did not keep consistent with my tennis when I needed it. But this is Davis Cup. He had the crowd on his side. They even threw a bottle at us. But in South America these things happen and you have to be ready.”
Felder was very disappointed because he felt that he could have taken the match. “I fought with everything I had and was very close to take the tie to the fifth rubber. There were moments in which I played really well but I came slightly short of closing the game. It was a classic Davis Cup match. I thank the Uruguayan crowd that backed us during the whole weekend,” he said.
Chile will now wait until the draw on Wednesday to know their rival in September’s World Group play-offs.