Day-2: World Group Quarterfinal. The United States defeats Belgium 3-0
For the second time this year, Team USA won a Davis Cup Tie with a doubles victory on Saturday. Back in February, Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson teamed to clinch a 1st-Round triumph in Nis, Serbia – Team USA’s first-ever defeat of the Serbs. This Saturday in Nashville, Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock lifted the U.S. into the 2018 World Group Semifinals with a 4-set foiling of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.
It wasn’t a thumping.
Behind two double faults, Jack took a mental vacation and gifted the Belgians a break late in the first. Sander and Joran then held to take the early lead. Sets 2 and 3 were decided by tiebreaks, before Jack and Ryan earned the victory with a late break in the fourth.
Jack Sock / Ryan Harrison (USA) def Sander Gille / Joran Vliegen (BEL) 57 76(1) 76(3) 64
Long story short, the doubles rubber came down to the service games of both Jack Sock and Sander Gille. Both played well, but each faced specific hiccups that defined the match.
In the first set, it took eight games before either team faced a break point. While Sander recovered for the hold, three games later Jack Sock suffered two double faults, a foot fault, and sent a forehand long to give Belgium its first break point – which Joran and Sander converted immediately. Gille then held to give Belgium the early lead.
Sets two and three could’ve gone either way. Both teams held through tiebreaks, where the Americans handled the pressure better.
Late in the second, just like in set-1, Sock struggled on serve again. At 5-all, he fell behind 15-40, uncorking the first two break points of the set. The Belgians were back in control, just one point and a hold away from a 2-0 lead. Sock cleared the cobwebs, fought off both break points and yelped a relief-fueled “Come On!” at deuce. Three ad’s later, we were still on serve. Gille then pounded through a comfortable hold to force the tiebreak.
In set-2’s breaker, Ryan opened with a hold. Vliegen responded in kind, but that hold would be the only point for the Belgians. Jack’s serve was back. After a mini-break on Joran, Sock put Team USA up 4-1. The Americans took both points on Gille’s serve before Ryan served it out.
At the start of the third, Captain Johan Van Herck refused to let Sander get down on himself. He switched up the service rotation and had Gille open the set. While Sander delivered an easy hold, game-5 was a different story. He fell behind 0-40, then played five consecutive clutch points to stay on serve……but the Americans were knocking. Vliegen faced three more break points late in the set, yet managed the hold to reach the tiebreak.
In set-3’s breaker, Gille gave up a break with the opening point. Jack and Ryan were up 4-0 before Vliegen finally put a point on the board. Down 3-5, Sander missed a volley at the net, then Jack put Team USA up 2-1 with an unreachable cannon blast.
A U.S. victory in 3-hours
In the fourth, both teams delivered routine holds through four changeovers. In fact, Harrison scored his second or third love hold to put the Americans up 5-4. Ryan was on-point all night.
The weight of the match on his shoulders, Sander Gille got nervy serving to keep the match alive. Down 30-40, he pumped a forehand into the net, giving Team USA the win on Ryan and Jack’s first match point.
Team USA back into the Davis Cup World Group Semifinals
For the first time in six years, the Americans are back in the Davis Cup Semifinals. They’ll face either Croatia or Kazakhstan on the road in September, the week following the US Open. Since capturing it’s 32nd Davis Cup Title in Portland back in 2007 – the Semifinals are the furthest Team USA has gone. The Americans fell to Spain in the Semifinal Rounds of 2008 and 2012.
Sunday’s Scheduled Order of Play *
Doors open at 12:30 | Ceremony starts at 1:30 | First match begins at 2:00 / Tennis Channel
* The final day of competition features a formal Opening Ceremony, followed by a pair of “reverse singles” rubbers. Because Team USA clinched the Tie on Saturday, each match will be the best of three tie-break sets. Opponents are subject to change per Team Captains, and teams may choose not to play the final rubber.