The United States, France, Australia and Great Britain got to show off this weekend didn't they? France, playing their tie in Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory, had a full house cheering the French team on. Gaël Monfils, whose family originated in the territory, played well in front of the "home crowd" (Monfils was born in Paris.) Gilles Simon started out slowly and roared back. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasguet played inspired doubles and closed out the tie easily.
Great Britain once again relied totally on the Murray family for it's victory. Noted xenophobe Dan Evans lost to Nishikori Kei in the second singles rubber and didn't have to play the fifth rubber. In the only match that featured two top ten players Andy Murray faced Nishikori in the pivotal fourth rubber. The day before he and his brother Jamie won the doubles in straight sets. The two men, with everything riding on the match for their countries, played one of if not the best men's match of 2016. The Japanese wanted to keep Murray on the court for a long time and indeed the match last 4h54m. But it was Nishikori, who looked to be bossing Murray around during the two sets he won, who was panting and gasping for breath at the end.
If you have time watch the entire match. If you don't have time watch the fifth set. Amazing high level tennis by both players with the outcome in doubt up until the middle of the set.
Then there was the much ballyhooed ( in the US anyway) tie between the United States and Australia, featuring John Isner, Jack Sock and the Bryan twins Mike and Bob for the US, and Sam Groth, Bernard Tomic, John Peers and playing Captain Lleyton Hewitt for Australia.
There are a lot of people in tennis, people who should know better, who when first Tomic and then Kyrgios burst into the consciousness of serious tennis fans - not too many outside of tennis have a clue who they are - their antics provoked raised eyebrows at the least, scorn at the most. Tennis Australia (TA) had it's hands full with the two talented, vain, and arrogant players. It seemed that at least once a month TA had to come out with an explanation for behavior both on and off the court that many thought was beyond the pale.
Long story short, Tomic's first rubber was against Jack Sock. By all accounts he was focused and interested in the match and won it in four sets. His second match, the one that would make or break his team, found him the exact opposite. I saw some of that match. Truth be told he was acting like a brat and quickly dropped the first two sets. His Captain was heard pleading with him to play better on the changeover. Tomic, instead of doing what both Murray and Nishikori did during changeovers and listen to their Captains while hydrating, etc, whined about Kyrgios not being there saying that he was probably faking and that he'd gotten away with it before. Kyrgios was not tanking the match. Tomic was. The deflection was childish and stupid and unprofessional. He managed to win the third set 7-5 before losing 6-7(4) to Isner and forcing his country to face relegation.
During his presser he went in on Kyrgios again with the same complaint. TA has already had one former player walk away from the Tomic/Kyrgios situation. I'm no fan of Hewitt and to me it's a case of reaping what you sow. He was no walk in the park either.
TA has no one else though and these two will hold their Federation hostage for many years. Wally Masur said the following today:
"What's happened has happened, and for me the best thing is that they both play Indian Wells in five days time," Masur told Fox Sports News.
"That they just meet up in the locker room ... shake hands and just get on with it.
"We don't play another Davis Cup tie until September so there will be a lot of water under the bridge from now until then."
Needless to say the "heat of the moment" was thrown into the pot as well.
On the other side of the world there were better examples of sportsmanship from up and comers.
Alexander Zverev was inconsolable after losing to Tomas Berdych. To be fair he should be losing to Berdych at this stage of his career. I wouldn't tell him that though.
Borna Ćorić won the rubber that moved his country on to the next round after their top player Marin Čilić wasn't able to close the tie out.
If you were a marketing person which young people would you want to promote as examples of what tennis is all about?
Yeah, I would too but there are too many people who think the game needs "personality". Be careful what you ask for.
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