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Sunday's Studs and Duds: Rewinding the Week in Davis Cup, Quebec, and Tashkent

Sep 15th 2013

Each Sunday, this site will feature a review of the leading performers in the week’s action as well as a few players who found less positive ways to distinguish themselves.


Novak Djokovic:  The world No. 1 found solace for his US Open disappointment by almost single-handedly bludgeoning a Canadian team in Belgrade.  Djokovic won all six sets that he played in his Davis Cup semifinal, losing two or fewer games in four of them.  One of his victories came in a first career meeting with Milos Raonic, viewed as a future threat to his ascendancy.  Transitioning from North America to Eastern Europe and from hard courts to clay, Djokovic showed that his Serbian patriotism extends from rhetoric to action.  His team will enter the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic favored to win their second title in four years.

Janko Tipsarevic

Janko Tipsarevic:  Battling Milos Raonic deep into a final set on Friday, Tipsarevic fell one point short of handing Serbia a commanding 2-0 lead.  That painful loss might have drained a lesser man’s spirits for the Sunday reverse singles, which pitted him against Vasek Pospisil for all the marbles.  To the contrary, Tipsarevic played the hero’s role with relish by winning the decisive fifth rubber in straight sets.  His victory showed that Serbia enjoys not only star power but depth, a key asset in Davis Cup.  On a personal level, moreover, Tipsarevic’s splendid effort should help build on his second-week appearance at the US Open in revitalizing his confidence. 

Bojana Jovanovski:  In a bizarre twist, Jovanovski held the top seed in both the qualifying draw and the main draw in Tashkent.  (She had missed the deadline for direct entry and thus needed to qualify despite ranking higher than anyone else in the field.)  All was well that ended well, though, which the week certainly did for Jovanovski.  She won seven total matches in Tashkent—the same number that Serena Williams won at the US Open—to claim her second career title, completing a banner weekend for Serbia.

Czech Davis Cup team:  Sweeping Argentina in a World Group semifinal, the defending champions assured themselves a chance to repeat.  World No. 5 Tomas Berdych accompanied US Open doubles champion Radek Stepanek to the victory in Prague.  Lacking Juan Martin Del Potro or other fast-court talent, the Argentines found their clay skills poorly designed for the indoor hard court this weekend.

Quebec City finalists:  Emulating the success of her countrymen in Prague, Lucie Safarova blazed a trail to the title of this indoor event in Canada.  Only one set did she lose en route to her first title since 2008, a surprising lacuna considering her talents.  In the final, Safarova’s baseline weapons weathered the underrated serve and all-court game of Marina Erakovic.  This quirky player from New Zealand narrowly missed her second title of 2013 on indoor hard courts, having won Memphis in February.

Daniel Nestor:  The veteran anchor of a young Canadian team partnered Pospisil against a dangerous pair of opponents in the doubles rubber.  Ilja Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic, Nestor’s former long-time partner, had divided No. 1 doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan in Davis Cup this year.  Still lethal at age 41, Nestor led Canada to a thrilling five-set victory on Belgrade clay that thrust his team to the brink of the final.  While the singles players could not close out the tie, his experience should keep Canada in Davis Cup contention for years to come.

Eugenie Bouchard:  Delighting her compatriots in Quebec City, Bouchard upset the second-seeded Kristina Mladenovic en route to the semifinals.  A year of steady progress for the Canadian phenom might culminate with a strong fall.  Collecting rankings points to earn more favorable draws in 2014 should feature among her priorities.

Christina McHale

Christina McHale:  At the US Open, McHale grabbed a few well-deserved headlines when she reached the third round and nearly upset Ana Ivanovic there.  That performance, late in an uneven season, may have catalyzed her semifinal result in Quebec City.  McHale managed to win consecutive three-setters in a test of her stamina a year after overcoming mononucleosis.  Among them was a victory over Caroline Garcia, a young French star whom she may see more often in later rounds of meaningful tournaments.

Olga Govortsova:  The world No. 113 had won just nine matches in 2013, yet she nearly doubled that total in one week at Tashkent.  Not only coming within a tiebreak of the title, Govortstova upset two seeds en route to the final.  The 6-foot Belarussian ensured that her country stayed in the tennis news even when world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka entered no event.

Ajla Tomljanovic:  The rising Croatian talent reached the first quarterfinal of her career in Quebec City, battling through two three-setters to get there.  While mononucleosis troubled the early stages of Tomljanovic’s career, she still has time to develop. 


Vasek Pospisil:  After an abysmal collapse in the first round of the US Open, Canada’s No. 2 gained little consolation in Belgrade.  Pospisil lost both of his rubbers in straight sets, committing 114 unforced errors on a clay surface where he had little experience.  The last few weeks have put his Rogers Cup semifinal appearance in a more realistic perspective, revealing how much he needs to evolve as a player and competitor.  To add insult to injury, or perhaps the opposite, Pospisil stumbled and appeared to injure his ankle on the final point of the weekend.

Kirsten Flipkens

Kirsten Flipkens:  The Wimbledon semifinalist still struggles to find her traction on hard courts in the second half.  Flipkens proved that she can prosperI on the surface by reaching the second week of the Australian Open, but she now has lost four straight matches.  Just as ominously, she has lost a 6-0 or 6-1 set in each of those matches.  Perhaps the long season wore down a woman unaccustomed to her current rate of success.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands:  The aging American will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury sustained at Quebec City.  Since she had produced encouraging results during the spring, including an upset of Li Na at Roland Garros, this setback will disappoint Mattek-Sands and her fans.