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Norrie Sends Great Britain Through To Davis Cup Finals Group Stage

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2023

Norrie Sends Great Britain Through To Davis Cup Finals Group Stage

Evans/Skupski earned team’s second point with doubles win

Cameron Norrie completed a Davis Cup double on Saturday to clinch victory for Great Britain against Colombia in a 2023 Qualifier.

After scoring the visitors’ first point with a win against Nicolas Barrientos on Friday, the World No. 11 earned his team a decisive third point with 6-4, 6-4 victory against Nicolas Mejia on Day 2 of the tie. In Saturday’s opening match in Cota, the doubles duo of Daniel Evans and Neal Skupski gave Great Britain a 2-1 lead with a 6-4, 6-4 result against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

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“Feelings are one of immense pride for what the boys have done, and the support team,” said British captain Leon Smith. “Everyone’s committed a lot of time to this, but hats off to the players. They came down to Colombia, most straight from Melbourne, came earlier than we’d ever normally do for Davis Cup, which is a big commitment from them. But we did that to prepare best for what happened these past two days and it’s definitely paid off.

“There’s a lot of work that the players have done to be able to adapt in a short space of time, and they went out and they fought really hard… It needed a lot of grit and determination. The important thing is we got a win, which gives us a chance to keep being successful this year. Really looking forward to September now.”

Norrie finished the job with a battling victory against Mejia, who scored his first Top 100 win against Daniel Evans in the tie’s first rubber. The match sparked into life late in the opening set with three straight breaks of serve, the Briton claiming two of them to lead 5-4. 

The 27-year-old drove home his advantage by serving out the set to love, a feat he repeated when serving out the match behind the lone break in set two. Norrie saved four of five break points in the match, aided by a 67 per cent first-serve percentage and a 83 per cent win rate on first-serve points.

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Evans/Skupski did not face a break point in their victory against longtime partners Cabal/Farah, who have won 19 tour-level titles as a pair. The Britons claimed an instant break in sets one and two, advantages they saw home with relative ease until the final game of both sets.

Pushed to deuce in their final service game of each set, Evans/Skupski denied their opponents — and the Colombian crowd — a lifeline as they stood tall in the crucial late moments.

“It was a very good performance by me and Evo today,” said Skupski. “I thought we stayed calm in big situations today and we stuck together, always communicating, always trying to feed off each other… We tried to use the bench as much as possible. We have a great team and a great environment from the coaching staff and also through the players.”

“We had good energy. We are good friends,” added Evans, who bounced back after his loss to Mejia. “He is No. 1 [in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings] and took care of the rest.”

With victory in the tie, Great Britain booked its place as one of 16 teams in the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals by Rakuten, to be played in September after the US Open. Other teams already confirmed for the group stage include 2022 champions Canada, 2022 finalists Australia, wild cards Spain and Italy, and qualifiers France, the United States, Switzerland, Serbia and Sweden.

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Stan's The Man: Wawrinka Completes Swiss Comeback In Germany

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2023

Stan’s The Man: Wawrinka Completes Swiss Comeback In Germany

Lehecka, Machac put Czech Republic in command vs. Portugal

Stan Wawrinka rolled back the years to fire Switzerland into the group stage of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals for the first time as the visitors completed a stunning 3-2 turnaround triumph against Germany in Trier.

The Germans had looked destined to win the 2023 Qualifier tie when Tim Puetz and Andreas Mies gave the hosts a 2-1 lead earlier on Saturday after beating Wawrinka and Dominic Stricker in the doubles, with world No. 14 Alexander Zverev waiting in the wings to polish off the tie.

But Swiss No. 1 Marc-Andrea Huesler tore up the script, perfectly executing his gameplan to stun Zverev in straight sets and give 37-year-old Wawrinka — a 2014 Davis Cup champion — the chance to secure Switzerland’s progress to the group stage in September.

“I’m happy I won one point and the last one was the most important,” said Wawrinka. “[Marc] played super well against Zverev. He put us back in the tie after losing the doubles.”

Though Wawrinka will rightly earn the plaudits for his decisive victory, it was a true team effort in Trier — with Huesler adding two crucial singles wins and 20-year-old Stricker, the boys’ singles champion at 2020 Roland Garros, underlining his potential, albeit in defeat, alongside Wawrinka in the doubles.

The left-handed Stricker was impressive throughout their narrow 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4 doubles loss, particularly on his powerful forehand flank, and with 21-year-old Leandro Riedi also in the squad, the Swiss signs are positive for the years to come.

“We have a great team,” said Wawrinka. “They’ve been building this team for the last few years. I was happy to come back if they need me to help. I’m the oldest by far, but we had a great week. We were really helping each other — it was a great week for us.”

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Zverev, after beating Wawrinka on Friday, could not produced a similar display against Huesler. The German was given few opportunities by the world No. 53, who attacked his serve — particularly the second — throughout the fourth rubber and barely relinquished his grip during a 6-2 7-6(3) triumph.

“He played extremely well,” conceded Zverev. “He played very aggressive, didn’t let me go into the rallies. I think it was also a very tactical move by him not to really go into rallies with me.”

Huesler’s victory was his fourth over a Top 20 player –=— adding to his ATP scalps of then world No. 12 Fabio Fognini at Kitzbuhel in 2020, and Pablo Carreno Busta (Sofia) and Jannik Sinner (Paris) in 2022.

“I’m very happy,” admitted Huesler. “I played a great match from A to Z. I had a clear gameplan that I was following. At the end I was very nervous but I was really happy with the way I was able to close it out.”

Like Wawrinka, Huesler praised his teammates and, despite their unexpected victory, believes that the Swiss deserve their place back at the competition’s top table.

“We have a couple of young guys who are improving every year,” he said. “That’s why we’re here where we are. We’ve really worked our way up to this stage.

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Czech Republic In Command In Portugal
Jiri Lehecka and Tomas Machac notched hard-earned singles victories to put the Czech Republic in a commanding position after Day 1 of its Davis Cup Qualifier against Portugal in Maia.

The 21-year-old Lehecka and 22-year-old Machac both handled a vibrant atmosphere well in northern Portugal, where Nuno Borges and then Joao Sousa battled well but were ultimately unable to get the home team on the board on Saturday.

Lehecka took to the clay fresh from a run to his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open. The World No. 39 showed some early rust and was broken serving for the first set at 5-3 against Borges. He kept his composure to break again immediately to claim the opener, however, and another late break in the 10th game of the second set was enough to clinch a 6-4, 6-4 triumph in 97 minutes.

“For me, it was very important to try to play a little bit differently than I played in Australia, because of course it’s clay [and] it’s a bit colder,” said Lehecka, when asked about how he had adapted to the conditions.

“So I would say that is one of the reasons I wasn’t able to find a perfect rhythm in the first and also in the second set.“There were plenty of moments where I just played the way I should play on hard courts, but not here on the clay. For me, I was trying to focus on my serve and in all I would say how I played from the baseline was pretty fine. Sometimes when I had a break point, I was a little too passive, and also he played very good on break points.”

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Following Lehecka onto court was Machac, who added to his impressive Davis Cup history by downing the four-time ATP Tour titlist Sousa 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2. Machac upset France’s Richard Gasquet and Great Britain’s Daniel Evans at the 2021 Davis Cup Finals, and he raised his game for his country once again on Saturday to bring the Czechs within one rubber of a spot in the group stage at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals.

The World No. 122 Machac struck 39 winners to Sousa’s 23 and converted five of 15 break points to improve his Davis Cup singles record to 4-1. The win also maintained his country’s perfect record against Portugal, with the three-time champion Czech Republic now having won all 12 rubbers between the two nations.

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Humbert Ensures France Survives Hungarian Scare In Davis Cup Qualifiers

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2023

Humbert Ensures France Survives Hungarian Scare In Davis Cup Qualifiers

Kazakhstan and hosts Chile level at 1-1, Serbia defeats Norway

France fought back from 2-1 down for the first time since 2014 to defeat Hungary at the Tatabanya Arena on Saturday and seal victory in the 2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers.

It was a far from comfortable triumph for Sebastien Grosjean’s team. Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknech were outplayed by the unheralded doubles duo of Fabian Marozsan and Mate Valkusz in the first match on Saturday, falling 6-2, 7-6(4) as the home team moved 2-1 in front.

With their backs against the wall, the French knew they had to be faultless in the reverse singles if they were to ensure safe passage to September’s Davis Cup Finals Group Stage.

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Grosjean made a tactical change, switching out his No. 1 player Benjamin Bonzi in favour of the lefty Adrian Mannarino to face Hungary’s highest-ranked player Marton Fucsovics, and the decision proved to be a wise one. Mannarino clinched a tight opening set tie-break before racing away with the second set against Fucsovics.

The Frenchman, who didn’t lose a point on his own serve in the second set, said: “Whoever won the first set was going to get a huge advantage. I wasn’t thinking about the score. I was going on court and giving my best and all my team were cheering for me, so it was easy for me to push myself a bit more.”

Ugo Humbert then capped a memorable Davis Cup debut, winning the all-important fifth match 6-3 6-3 against Marozsan – who was forced to return to the court to play singles in place of the injured Zsombor Piros.

“I am so proud of this team,” said Humbert. “Playing in Davis Cup means a lot for me because it’s an unbelievable competition and I’m very proud of myself today. I’m very happy that we’re in the finals.”

Kazakhstan, Chile Trade Upsets
The Davis Cup Qualifier tie between Kazakhstan and hosts Chile is level at 1-1 after Saturday’s play in La Serena. While there was little drama in the two straightforward singles matches, both results were upsets according to the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. 

World No. 129 Timofey Skatov, making his Davis Cup debut for Kazakhstan at age 22, earned the first point of the tie with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Cristian Garin. But Nicolas Jarry sent the Chilean fans home happy with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Alexander Bublik, the highest-ranked man on either team at World No. 36.

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Skatov made a dream start to his Davis Cup career, taking the home crowd out of the match early on by winning the first three games against five-time tour-level champion Garin. He bettered that opening in set two as he won 16 of the first 18 points—including the first 12 in a row—to close in on a milestone victory.

Entering the match on the heels of a run to the final of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Concepcion, the Kazakh continued his strong form by fighting through deuce to serve out the win.

“It was a really tough match because I was really nervous,” said Skatov, who won four of the five deuce games in the contest. “It was my first time playing Davis Cup, especially against Chile here as a guest against a really experienced player like Cristian Garin.

“In the end I played a really great match. I was really focussed and aggressive. The first few games were really important for the confidence.”

In the second rubber, Jarry stemmed the tide with an instant break against Bublik. He stared down a break point in his first and last service games of the opening set, but never blinked with the pressure on. After an early trade of breaks in set two, Jarry reclaimed the initiative by patiently building points around his aggressive groundstrokes. The 27-year-old won 10 straight points to move ahead 5-2 before digging out of a 15/30 hole in his final service game, closing out the match with his 15th forehand winner.

“I’ve been very focused on his serve to be able to counter it,” said Jarry, who converted on five of seven break chances. “You have to be very careful against a player like Bublik. I was always focused, trying to always take the initiative and control each point.

“Playing at home is always incredible. There are nerves, but positive energy as well, and I knew how to use it to my advantage. I hope we can continue like this and we can win the tie for Chile.”

Sunday’s doubles rubber is slated to feature Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo for Chile against Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov for Kazakhstan, followed by the reverse singles fixtures.

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Cacic/Krajinovic Seal Finals Spot For Serbia
Nikola Cacic and Filip Krajinovic withstood a spirited challenge from Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal to claim a doubles victory and secure Serbia’s place in the 2023 Finals Group Stage.

The pair delivered a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory in one hour and 44 minutes to give their team an unassailable 3-0 lead against Norway, before Hamad Medjedovic completed a Serbian whitewash on his Davis Cup debut by defeating Durasovic 6-4 6-7(4) [10-4].

“We are really happy that we won today,” Cacic said after the doubles match. “It wasn’t easy, we had tough opponents, but it was great performance from Filip and me. We finished the match great and I’m really happy that we qualified [for the Finals].”

The absence of World No. 4 Casper Ruud from this tie was keenly felt by the Norwegian team – but Durasovic fought bravely against Laslo Djere on Friday, with the Serbian forced to save match point in the final-set tiebreak before getting over the line. The World No. 362 played well again on Saturday, as did Hoeyraal, who is unranked in both singles and doubles and was contesting his first Davis Cup match.

Serbia’s strength in depth is such that they missed their No. 1 player this weekend much less than Norway missed theirs. Captain Viktor Troicki played alongside Novak Djokovic (then the winner of just one Grand Slam title) when Serbia won their only Davis Cup title to date in 2010 – and should the now-22-time major champion re-join the team for the Finals group stage in September, Serbia will surely be optimistic of winning the famous trophy for a second time.

“With Novak, if he is in the team for the next ties, I think we have a big chance to go far,” he added. “That is our goal, to go for the title.”

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Krajieck/Ram Clinch USA Davis Cup Victory Against Uzbekistan

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2023

Krajieck/Ram Clinch USA Davis Cup Victory Against Uzbekistan

Bergs, Goffin earn Belgium 2-0 lead against South Korea

“Bring out the broomsticks,” the USA’s Tommy Paul said on Friday following his first-day singles win in the United States Davis Cup Qualifier against Uzbekistan. “A sweep would be nice”.

And a sweep it was, as Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram’s doubles win against Uzbekistan made it three from three for the USA before Denis Kudla beat Amir Milushev in the fourth rubber of the tie to complete a 4-0 victory.

Captain David Nainkin’s men have now secured a spot in the 2023 Davis Cup Finals Group Stage, as the nation bids for a 33rd title in the competition.

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Krajicek and Ram were never in any real danger against Uzbekistan’s Sanjar Fayziev and Sergey Fomin. The American pair sped to a 6-2, 6-4 victory in just 52 minutes in a clinical display at the Olympic Tennis School, Tashkent.

“I was excited to see Raj and Austin play today,” Nainkin said. “They’ve practised well all week, they had five great days of preparation and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. After that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them.”

Ram nonetheless had positive words for their Uzbek opponents.

“Rankings-wise they’re the underdogs, they’re not the favourites in this match,” he said. “But even in the singles they tried their best and they really fought until the end and that’s a pretty good quality to have. It helps you even maybe win some matches you’re not supposed to win.”

In the fourth rubber of the tie, two Davis Cup debutants went head to head as USA’s Kudla beat Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

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Belgium are two steps closer to joining the USA in September’s Group Stage following impressive performances from Zizou Bergs and David Goffin on the opening day of their Qualifier against South Korea.

Belgian No.2 Bergs took on South Korean frontman Soonwoo Kwon at the Olympic Tennis Court in Seoul, sealing a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) victory against the World No.61 in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Kwon wasted no time in claiming the first set 6-1 against Bergs. The Korean had won seven of his previous nine Davis Cup matches and claimed the Adelaide International 2 title just weeks ago. But the response from world No.115 Bergs was to “look in the mirror” during the break, and “play with more engagement, more confidence and… try to change step by step. And that’s exactly what happened.”

With the second set under his belt, Bergs went toe to toe with Kwon in the third, saving two match points in the tiebreak before securing victory for just his second Davis Cup match win in six attempts.

“As a player I’m really expressive, I like emotions… a lot of spectators make a lot of noise through your matches and that gets me really pumped up,” he said.

In the second singles, Belgium’s David Goffin, veteran of 21 Davis Cup ties, took on Seong-chan Hong in a bid to make it a clean sweep on the first day. The World No.41 Goffin took just 77 minutes to seal a 6-4, 6-2 win.

“I’m happy because after the good win of Zizou against Kwon, it was very important to confirm it and to be at 2-0 after the first day,” said Goffin. “But the job is not done yet.”

Play in Seoul resumes on Sunday, when the doubles rubber begins at 11:00 local time (02:00 GMT).

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Why Bouncing Back Is Key For Berrettini

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2023

Why Bouncing Back Is Key For Berrettini

Netflix’s Break Point followed Italian as he reached first Australian Open SF

“In my career it always happens. After a tough loss, I [get] better.”

Netflix’s Break Point tracked Matteo Berrettini’s run to his maiden Australian Open semi-final at the start of the 2022 season. He fell to a heartbreaking four-set defeat against eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the last four in Melbourne, but the Italian’s mental approach has always set him up well to process disappointments and, crucially, learn from them.

“Once you feel that every day you are putting in the effort, improving the best that you can in everything you are doing, I think at the end of the day you can go to sleep and feel satisfied,” Berrettini told ATP Uncovered in 2021. “It’s not about winning or losing, it’s not about a trophy or no trophy, it’s about if you are enjoying what you are doing, your life, or not.”

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Even stepping inside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena to take on ATP Tour icon Nadal was reward for years of hard work for Berrettini, who bounced back from his disappointment in Australia by winning titles in Stuttgart and at The Queen’s Club in London later in 2022.

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“When I was a kid, I was dreaming about being here, playing with the best guys,” he said in 2021. “I was actually looking at the TV watching Novak [Djokovic], Rafa, Roger [Federer] playing, and now I’m playing with them. So it’s really inspiring for me and I think for the next generations as well.

“If you work hard, if you really have a dream, I think you can get there. And even if you don’t get there, if you try your best, it’s something that is going to be helpful for your life.”

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That honest and hardworking approach to each day of his pro tennis career brings other emotional rewards for Berrettini, whose huge serve and powerful forehand have made him a fan favourite on Tour. Even if he can’t always believe it himself.

“It’s weird to think about a legacy for me, because I never thought I could be here, when I was younger,” he said. “I never had a plan, I was just playing and playing.

“What really inspired me [later] was when kids were saying ‘I watch all your matches’, when they wear the hat like me, and they say ‘I do the forehand like Berrettini’. This is something that really makes me happy, so I really wish that people watching me feel something that is more than hitting a tennis ball.”

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Djokovic & Medvedev Inspired Former Junior World No. 1 Vallejo In Turin

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2023

Djokovic & Medvedev Inspired Former Junior World No. 1 Vallejo In Turin

18-year-old hit with stars at Nitto ATP Finals

For aspiring stars on the ATP Tour, the opportunity to spend time with those at the top of the game is a dream come true. Just ask 18-year-old Daniel Vallejo, who rubbed shoulders with Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and other stars at the Nitto ATP Finals in November.

The Paraguayan spent two weeks as a hitting partner in Turin, where he watched and practised with those competing at the prestigious year-end event.

“These two weeks have been amazing,” Vallejo said. “You learn a lot and you get a lot of rhythm with the players. This court is amazing, it is one of the biggest courts I have been to. I have been hitting here. It has been cool to play here and to watch all the matches that have been played here. When you step in and hit it is a completely different feeling to hitting [on] a normal court.”

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The World No. 581 first picked up a racquet when he was a six-year-old in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion. His desire to play professionally quickly grew, with his two older brothers a source of inspiration after they went to play college tennis in the United States.

Currently training at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, Vallejo has enjoyed testing himself against fellow rising stars in Mallorca. However, the former junior World No. 1 quickly noticed the step-up in level when he hit with Medvedev and Andrey Rublev in Turin.

“They are very consistent and aggressive with their games. They have big serves. They have a lot of things you can take away and try and practise,” Vallejo said. “I was warming up Daniil Medvedev for his match against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas. It was a fun experience. Daniil has a completely different game style. He is a very chilled guy. It is very fun to be with him and play with him. You get used to his ball and it is very fun.”

Vallejo, who had prior experience hitting with Nadal in Spain, shared a locker room with alternates Holger Rune and Hubert Hurkacz in Turin. A unique aspect of the year-end event is that the eight qualified singles players and eight doubles teams have individual lockers, which is different from other tour-level tournaments.

“I think one of the coolest things for the players playing the tournament is they have their own lockers with their faces on the door,” Vallejo said. “That is pretty cool. This is a one-time thing. I should keep working hard to maybe be here one day.”

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On court, Novak Djokovic captured his sixth Nitto ATP Finals crown when he defeated Casper Ruud in the championship match. Vallejo relished the opportunity to watch the Serbian in action.

“I love watching Novak Djokovic. He is an amazing player to watch. He has everything. With Roger, he is probably the most complete player,” Vallejo said. “He can do everything, so it is amazing to watch him play.”

Eager to learn from his experience in Turin, Vallejo will hope he can climb the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and fulfil his long-term dream of competing at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I will be focusing on [ATP] Challenger [Tour] events and Futures, but hopefully in two years I can start playing on the ATP [Tour],” Vallejo said.

“I would love to be here in three or four or even 10 years from now, but I will have to keep working hard. I would like to win a Grand Slam, hopefully Wimbledon or US Open. But I have to keep working hard and dreaming.”

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Norrie Draws Great Britain Level After Mejia Magic For Colombia

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2023

Norrie Draws Great Britain Level After Mejia Magic For Colombia

Kecmanovic, Djere put Serbia 2-0 up against Norway

It’s all square for Great Britain and hosts Colombia after Friday’s Davis Cup Qualifier action in Bogota.

After Colombia’s Nicolas Mejia earned his first Top 100 win with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 result against Daniel Evans, Cameron Norrie levelled the tie at 1-1 by beating Nicolas Barrientos 6-2, 7-5.

Mejia clinched his milestone victory with a break in the final game against Evans, a blazing backhand passing shot sparking wild celebrations in the Colombian capital. After the competitors split a pair of one-sided sets, the 22-year-old fended off three break points in the first game of the decider before piling on the pressure late.

While he could not convert on two break chances as Evans held in a marathon game to level the set at 4-4, Mejias responded with a love hold before clinching victory with his third break of the two-hour, 31-minute contest.

“The key to victory? The attitude, dedication, not getting nervous more than necessary,” he said post-match. “I have also learned a lot from previous defeats.

“I wanted to go out and win and I was not going to give them anything. I am very happy for the point that I was able to give to Colombia. There is a long way [to go] to think about victory.”

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In the day’s second match, Norrie coped with the pressure of the 1-0 deficit and the volume of the home crowd, claiming an early break against Barrientos to settle British nerves. The British No. 1 again scored an immediate break to open the second set, but the Colombian snapped back with his first break of the match.

Barrientos then created five break points on return at 1-2, but he could not break Norrie’s dogged resistance. The Colombian earned another break chance at 2-3 but was again denied, and ultimately paid the price when a missed volley handed Norrie a crucial late break in the set’s 11th game.

With the match on his racquet, Norrie finished the job to earn Great Britain its first point in the tie.

“Especially given that we’re the away team, they’ve got a huge advantage [with us] coming here on clay, in altitude, with the fans out there,” Norrie said after his victory. “That’s why we love it and that’s why we’re out here playing. I really enjoyed the match today and I can improve on a lot of things going into tomorrow.”

Both teams will require two wins from Saturday’s action to clinch the tie and secure a place in the 2023 Davis Cup Final Group Stage. Play is set to begin a noon local time with doubles.

Djere, Kecmanovic Earn Serbia Commanding Lead In Norway

<a href=''>Laslo Djere</a>

Contrasting wins for Laslo Djere and Miomir Kecmanovic left Serbia 2-0 up after Friday’s Davis Cup Qualifier play in Oslo.

After Kecmanovic cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 triumph against Norway’s Andreja Petrovic, Djere scored a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(8) win against Viktor Durasovic, the stand-in No. 1 for the Norwegians after Casper Ruud’s late withdrawal.

World No. 65 Djere saved a match point in the decisive tie-break before clinching victory on his third chance. The Serbian started well, not conceding a break point until the seventh game of set two, but found himself in a third set as Durasovic battled back with the help of his home crowd. Djere led 5-2 in set three but was dragged into a final-set tie-break after another surge by his opponent.

“It was a very tough match today, my opponent played exceptionally well,” Djere said after his win, before paying tribute to the small but vocal band of Serbian supporters in the stands. “The atmosphere was great, I’m thankful for all the support I got from the crowd. I’m very happy I got the win and got the second point for Serbia.”

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Kecmanovic, the World No. 34, enjoyed a more straightforward victory in just 46 minutes. 

“It definitely feels good to start off without any drama, without any complication,” the 23-year-old reflected afterwards. “I think I played a really good match today, pretty solid from the back so overall I’m pretty happy with how things went.”

Today’s results leave Serbia one win away from a place in the 2023 Davis Cup Finals Group Stage, with the doubles match scheduled at 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Saturday followed by the reverse singles matches if required.

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