1. On Tuesday, the Netherlands defeated Finland 2-1, and on Thursday, they defeated America, also nominated for the group stage, 2-1. Are the Netherlands now certain of their qualification for the Davis Cup final?
Talon Grekbauer and Boutique Van de Zandschulp achieved an unexpected victory over America. Greek Sport defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (2). Van de Zandschulp defeated Tommy Paul in two sets: 7-6 (2), 6-2. Matoi Middelkoop and Wesley Koolhoff had to submit to Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram in three sets in Split, Croatia: 6-7 (5) 7-6 (3) 6-3.
Thanks to those victories over America and Finland, the Netherlands did well, but until Friday evening they were not sure of their standing yet. In theory, there could be three countries with two wins at the end of the group stage. Thanks to the Finns’ victory over the Croats on Friday evening, the Dutch secured the final battle. America and Finland must decide who will take the second ticket to the final. The Netherlands will play against the host country Croatia on Sunday in order to regain its level.
2. What is the shape of the Davis Cup?
The national championship has a long tradition. Until 2019, an away or home match between the two countries was played four times a year. The design was modified at the initiative of the investment company Cosmos Group, a company owned by former footballer Gerard Pique.
The group stage of the Davis Cup is now held at four different playing locations in Europe, with four countries in each location. The Netherlands play in Split at the Arena Grip Sports Centre, just like America, Finland and Croatia. Two teams from each group qualify for the knockout stage: the final with eight countries. It will be held in Malaga from 21 to 26 November.
3. Has interest increased due to the new design?
It doesn’t seem so. Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka expressed his dissatisfaction earlier this week, through a video of the almost empty stands in Manchester. He also posted a sarcastic word of thanks to Pique and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Dutch tennis players also expected a small number of Dutch fans in Split. It’s the start of the new school year, so there are only a few students traveling to Split to cheer. In order to attract some orange crowds, Greek leader Spoor decided to make an appeal via Instagram. This action was followed by his fellow players. Are you interested in maps? Then send an email to the KNLTB Tennis Association.
However, most of the stands remained empty in recent days. It will be full on Sunday, when the stadium will be sold out. But the audience will be mostly Croatians, cheering for the host country.
4. How do the Dutch play and what has stood out so far?
“It’s probably the best performance I’ve ever seen from him,” Captain Paul Haarhuis said about Zekerheidesspor’s match against Tiafoe, the American ranked No. 11 in the world, who recently reached the quarter-finals of the US Open. Greece’s Spor, leader of the Netherlands, is now 24th in the world rankings and is having its best year ever.
“Very high standard and very few mistakes actually, the whole match,” Grec Burr himself said afterwards. He won the first set convincingly, narrowly lost in a tiebreak in the second and was also the better in the third. Greg Burr: “The most important thing for me is that I kept hunting and playing hard.”
Botic van de Zandschulp’s performance was also amazing. The former world No. 22 suffered a bone bruise and nerve injury five months ago after kicking “something” after losing in the final in Munich, despite receiving four match points. Recovery will take six to nine months. However, a few months later he also tore ankle ligaments in the same foot.
Van de Zandschulp, who has dropped to 68th in the world rankings, described his arrival at the US Open a few weeks ago as exceeding expectations. At the same time, he is not 100 percent ready yet and clearly lacked self-confidence in his opening match against Finland’s Otto Virtanen (No. 125 in the world rankings) on Tuesday.
But his performance two days later feels like a major accomplishment. He performed against Tommy Ball, No. 13 in the world, with convincing, difficult shots and fast, varied play. “It’s been a few months since I played really well, I just needed this,” he said afterwards.
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