DAVIS CUP: U.S. ADVANCES TO WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS
By Junior Williams
(April 7, 2018) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The United States has secured a spot in the Davis Cup World Group Semifinals for the first time in six years.
Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison defeated Belgium’s doubles team Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, 5-7, 7-6(1), 7-6(3), 6-4 at Belmont University’s Curb Event Center — giving the Americans an unassailable 3-0 lead over the Belgians in the quarterfinals. The victory comes after John Isner and Sam Querrey won their singles matches on Friday.
For Gille and Vliegen it was their Davis Cup debut. Belgium’s top-ranked doubles players are no strangers to the southern U.S.: Gille played college tennis at East Tennessee State, while Vliegen played at East Carolina University.
In the first set, the Belgians broke the U.S. to go up 6-5 in a game that saw Sock double fault twice and Harrison fail to convert a volley at net, resulting in the break. Gille closed out the set with an ace.
Gille and Vliegen showed great teamwork with their net play and service game, helped by delivering first serves in at an 80-percent clip.
The U.S. struck back by winning a second-set tiebreak that included key forehand shots by Harrison, including one on the last point which Gille netted.
Sock dominated the third set tiebreak with powerful groundstrokes, forehand winners and a strong service game to put the U.S. up two sets to one, coming through despite the Belgians staving off six break points earlier in the set.
The Americans didn’t break Gille and Vliegen until the final game of the match, finishing the three-hour contest with 44 winners to the Belgians’ 33.
The U.S. last reached the World Group Semifinals in 2012, losing to Spain’s Davis Cup team led by David Ferrer. The Americans will now face either Croatia or Kazakhstan in September.
“Meant a lot,” Ryan Harrison said of the win and reaching the Davis Cup semifinal. We were really excited to play, play here in Nashville. We felt the energy was great all week. We really wanted to come through. It’s a big goal of ours to represent the country well and to put together a good Davis Cup performance. We’re excited to have the opportunity to play in the semifinals. Definitely not going to look ahead. We want to take this next match. We know we have all the weapons to get through if we play well. We’re going to do what we can to fight through to the final.”
With Belgium having been Davis Cup finalists in two of the past three years, the team sorely missed top players David Goffin and Steve Darcis, who did not play against the U.S. due to injury.
The Belgians will remain in the World Group in 2019.
Sunday’s action will consist of one dead rubber singles match. The participants will be determined by one hour before the match.
Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Nashville, Tennessee covering the Davis Cup Quarterfinal World Group tie between the United States and Belgium for Tennis Panorama News.
DAY / MATCH TIME
Friday, 4 p.m. CT
Singles A: John Isner (USA) d. Joris De Loore (BEL), 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(8), 6-4
Singles B: Sam Querrey (USA) d. Ruben Bemelmans (BEL), 6-1, 7-6(5), 7-5
Saturday, 4 p.m. CT
Doubles: Jack Sock (USA)/Ryan Harrison (USA) d. Sander Gille (BEL)/Joran Vliegen (BEL), 5-7, 7-6(1), 7-6(3), 6-4
Sunday, 2 p.m. CT
*Singles C: TBD (USA) v. TBD (BEL) *to be played best-of-three-sets