In case the recent decimation of the historic Davis Cup format pretty much had it fall off your radar the last few years, there is Davis Cup action this weekend.
Mostly, it takes place Friday and Saturday (with some ties played Saturday and Sunday) in the abbreviated, two-day, best-of-three format.
Most fairly well-known players are taking a pass. But there are still some who are taking part in these playoff ties.
*Casper Ruud for Finland
*Diego Schwartzman and Guido Pella for Argentina
*Rohan Bopanna for India (doubles)
*Cristian Garin for Chile
*Botic Van de Zandschulp, No. 62 with a bullet, playing No. 1 for the Netherlands
*Ernests Gulbis for Latvia in Group II
The nations were given a choice of playing these ties in March, or this weekend. Most opted for this weekend.
The New Zealand vs Korea tie is being played … on grass at the Hall of Fame site in Newport, Rhode Island.
Other than the neutral venues, nearly all the seeded teams ended up playing on the road.
The eight highest-ranked winners of the ties (and the ones played in March – Japan beat Pakistan, and Ukraine beat Israel) will advance to the 2022 Group I qualifiers.
The other four will play ANOTHER playoff tie in November for the right to advance to next year’s qualifiers.
Here’s a quick roundup. We’ll update it as events unfold.
World Group I Playoffs
Uruguay 0, Netherlands 4 (COMPLETE)
Venue: Carrasco Lawn Tenis Club, Montevideo, Uruguay
Surface: Clay – Red Clay, Outdoor
Ball: Head Tour XT
#1 Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) def #2 Francisco Llanes (URU) 60 63
#2 Tallon Griekspoor (NED) def #1 Martin Cuevas (URU) 64 76 (6)
Wesley Koolhof / Matwe Middelkoop (NED) def
Ariel Behar / Pablo Cuevas Ignacio Carou / Martin Cuevas (URU) 62 61 #1 Botic Van de Zandschulp Robin Haase (NED) def #1 Martin Cuevas Ignacio Carou (URU) 63 62 #2 Francisco Llanes (URU) vs #2 Tallon Griekspoor (NED)
Argentina 4, Belarus 1 (COMPLETE)
Venue: Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Surface: Clay – Red Clay, Outdoor
Ball: Roland Garros
#2 Daniil Ostapenkov (BLR) def #1 Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 64 63
#2 Guido Pella (ARG) def. #1 Erik Arutiunian (BLR) 61 62
Maximo Gonzalez / Horacio Zeballos (ARG) def.
Martin Borisiouk / Alexander Zgirovsky Erik Arutiunian / Daniil Ostapenkov (BLR) 57 62 62
#1 Diego Schwartzman (ARG) def
#1 Erik Arutiunian Alexander Zgirovsky (BLR) 61 62 #2 Guido Pella Federico Coria (ARG) def. #2 Daniil Ostapenkov (BLR) 63 61
Bolivia 2, Belgium 3 (COMPLETE)
Venue: Rakura Report, Asunción, Paraguay
Surface: Clay – Red Clay, Outdoor
Ball Wilson Roland Garros Clay Court
Even though Bolivia had the “home” tie, it is being played on somewhat neutral ground in Paraguay.
#1 Hugo Dellien (BOL) def. #2 Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 63 64
#2 Murkel Dellien (BOL) def. #1 Zizou Bergs (BEL) 64 46 62
Sander Gille / Joran Vliegen (BEL) def
Murkel Dellien Federico Zaballos / Boris Arias (BOL) 63 64 #1 Zizou Bergs Michael Geerts (BEL) def #1 Hugo Dellien (BOL) 64 46 62
#2 Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) def #2 Murkel Dellien (BOL) 76 (2) 62
Peru 3, Bosnia-Herzogovina 2 (COMPLETE)
Venue: Club Lawn Tennis de la Exposición, Lima, Peru
Surface: Clay – Clay, Outdoor
Ball: Babolat Team Clay
#1 Damir Dzumhur (BIH) def #2 Nicolas Alvarez (PER) 62 67 (4) 63
#1 Juan Pablo Varillas (PER) def #2 Mirza Basic (BIH) 75 76 (1)
Mirza Basic / Tomislav Brkic (BIH) def Sergio Galdos / Jorge Brian Panta (PER) 75 62
#1 Juan Pablo Varillas (PER) def #1 Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 63 62
#2 Nicolas Alvarez (PER) def
#2 Mirza Basic Nerman Fatic (BIH) 76 (4) 64
Slovakia 3,  Chile 1 (COMPLETE)
Venue: NTC Arena , Bratislava, Slovakia
Surface: Hard – GreenSet Comfort, Indoor
Ball: Dunlop ATP
#1 Cristian Garin (CHI) def #2 Alex Molcan (SVK) 62 64
#1 Norbert Gombos (SVK) def. #2 Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 62 67 (5) 63
Lukas Klein / Filip Polasek (SVK) def Alejandro Tabilo / Marcelo Barrios Vera (CHI) 61 76 (4)
#1 Norbert Gombos (SVK) def #1 Cristian Garin (CHI) 60 61
#2 Alex Molcan (SVK) vs #2 Nicolas Jarry (CHI)
Finland 3,  India 2 (COMPLETE)
Venue: Espoo Metro Areena, Espoo, Finland
Surface: Hard – Rebound Ace Synpave, Indoor
Ball: Dunlop Fort All Court Tournament Select
#2 Otto Virtanen (FIN) def #1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 63 76 (1)
#1 Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) def. #2 Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND)
Harri Heliovaara / Henri Kontinen (FIN) def Rohan Bopanna / Divij Sharan (IND) 76 (2) 76 (2)
#1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) def
#1 Emil Ruusuvuori Patrick Niklas-Solminen (FIN) 63 75 #2 Otto Virtanen (FIN) vs #2 Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND)
Norway 3,  Uzbekistan 1 (COMPLETE)
Venue: Oslo Tennis Arena, Oslo, Norway
Surface: Hard – Plexipave, Indoor
Ball: Dunlop ATP
#1 Casper Ruud (NOR) def. #2 Khumoyun Sultanov (UZB) 63 63
#2 Victor Durasovic (NOR) def #1 Denis Istomin (UZB) 64 64
Denis Istomin / Sanjar Fayziev (UZB) def Casper Ruud / Victor Durasovic (NOR) 76 (1) 63
#1 Casper Ruud (NOR) def
#1 Denis Istomin Sanjar Fayziev (UZB) 63 61 #2 Victor Durasovic (NOR) vs #2 Khumoyun Sultanov (UZB)
Lebanon 0, Brazil 4 (COMPLETE)
Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon, Jounieh, Lebanon
Surface: Clay – Har-Tru Court, Outdoor
Ball: Dunlop Fort
#2 Orlando Luz (BRA) def #1 Benjamin Hassan (LEB) 64 64
#1 Felipe Meligeni Rodriguez Alves (BRA) def #2 Hady Habib (LEB) 61 63
Marcelo Demoliner / Rafael Matos (BRA) def Hady Habib / Hasan Ibrahim (LEB) 62 36 76 (5)
\#1 Felipe Meligeni Rodriguez Alves Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida (BRA) def #1 Benjamin Hassan Roey Tabet (LEB) 60 61 #2 Hady Habib (LEB) vs #2 Orlando Luz (BRA)
New Zealand 1,  Korea Republic 3 (COMPLETE)
The International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, USA
Surface: Grass – Grass, Outdoor
Ball: Wilson Tour Premier Grass Court
Not only is the venue something else, not a single one of the five on the New Zealand squad has a singles ranking. And yet, they have one of the better national doubles pairings in the world in Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell – bronze medallists in Tokyo
#2 Jisung Nam (KOR) def #1 Rubin Statham (NZL) 62 62
#1 Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) def #2 Finn Reynolds (NZL) 76 (1) 63
Marcus Daniell / Michael Venus (NZL) def Jisung Nam / Min-Kyu Song (KOR) 46 62 64
#1 Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) def #1 Rubin Statham (NZL) 63 63
#2 Finn Reynolds (NZL) vs #2 Jisung Nam (KOR)
Romania 3, Portugal 1 (COMPLETE)
Venue: Sala Sporturilor Horia Demian, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Surface: Hard – Set & Match ACR, Indoor
Ball: Wilson US Open Regular Duty
#1 Joao Sousa (POR) def #2 Filip Cristian Jianu (ROU) 63 75
#1 Marius Copil (ROU) def #1 Gastao Elias (POR) 64 63
Marius Copil / Horia Tecau (ROU) def
Gastao Elias Nuno Borges/ Joao Sousa (POR) 64 63
#1 Marius Copil (ROU) def #1 Joao Sousa (POR) 63 26 64
#2 Gastao Elias (POR) vs #2 Filip Cristian Jianu (ROU)
Group II Playoffs also under way
At the same time, a number of nations are taking part in the Group II playoffs, with (most of) the winning teams earning an opportunity to complete in the Group I playoffs next year.
China, due to play on the road in Zimbabwe, has already given them a walkover.
Taipei, which had a home tie against Morocco, also forfeited.
Among the players you might recognize are younger Tsitsipas brother Petros, who is playing No. 2 singles for Greece against Ricardas Berankis Saturday.
Tsitsipas brothers in Heraklion
Big brother Stefanos is on the roster. But he’s not in the lineup (so far). The tie is being played in Heraklion, Greece.
This isn’t like the ATP Cup, where by the mere lofty standing of a country’s top player, he can pull a whole squad to Australia with him and help them earn a few bucks.
Davis Cup, bless its decimated heart, makes you earn it. And so Greece is grinding it out in Group II.
In Biel, Switzerland, Henri Laaksonen and young Dominic Stricker are manning the singles for the home team. This is not your father’s Swiss Davis Cup team. But time marches on.
In Kalisz, Poland, Kamil Majchrzak is the No. 1 for the home team in the absence of Hubert Hurkacz, vs. El Salvador.
Marcelo Arevalo, who reached the mixed doubles final with Giuliana Olmos last weekend, will play both singles and doubles. Arevalo, ranked No. 636 in singles, has played singles in Davis Cup a couple of times over the last two years. But the last Tour singles match he played was at the New York Open in Feb. 2020.
Gulbis sporting the Latvian colours
Turkey vs. Latvia in Istanbul features Turkey’s two best – Altug Celikbilek and Cem Ilkel (who qualified at the US Open). And Ernests Gulbis is carrying the flag for Latvia.
Meanwhile, the South Africa vs. Venezuela Group II tie is being played in Forest Hills, NY, the former home of the US Open.
Team SA continues to work hard ahead of this weekend’s Davis Cup World Group II first round tie against Venezuela. The tie is being played in the historic horseshoe shaped Forest Hills stadium, which hosted the finals of the U.S. Champs & U.S. Open from 1923 to 1977. #DavisCup pic.twitter.com/X8UdvFtHr9 — Tennis South Africa (@TennisSA) September 15, 2021
In Portoroz, Slovenia, the mens’ Davis Cup squad takes on Paraguay on red clay. It appears to be at the same tennis centre where the WTA women’s event is taking place on hard court – the Tennis Centre Portoroz, which has 20 courts. But we’ll double-check that.