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ATP Young Guns Play Pivotal Role in Davis Cup Weekend Drama

This weekend Davis Cup action took place worldwide, and the young guns of the ATP world tour played a pivotal role in the results. This year has been the canary in the coalmine for a changing of the guard on the ATP World Tour, as the next generation of talents is coming into their own, and in Slams, ATP tournaments, and Davis Cup, they are starting to truly seize the spotlight. Here is a look at what went down.

In the World Group quarterfinals, young guns struggled as a matter of fact, the Aussie K-twins Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis won just one out of seven sets they played in their Friday singles matches against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov. Kokkinakis played a very poor match on grass, and Kyrgios showed a lack of fight and tenacity, as he dropped his match in four sets and stated during the third set “I don’t want to be here”, resulting in him being accused of tanking yet again, after his Wimbledon antics a week or so ago. Captain Wally Masur and Co-Captain in all but name Lleyton Hewitt seemed to take Kyrgios’ remarks seriously as he was replaced by Sam Groth, and Hewitt himself, as they recovered from the Friday debacle to win the tie in a live fifth rubber. The K-Twins will now have a chance to redeem themselves in the World Group semifinals against Team GB, as they will surely feature given Bernard Tomic’s terrible relations with the national federation right now. After a meteoric rise, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are now demonstrating they have a lot of maturing to do, as Kyrgios especially seems to be off the boil in recent weeks.

Team Canada’s Filip Peliwo, a former junior slam winner also struggled as his team got blanked 5-0 by Belgium (which featured young gun Kimmer Coppejans who helped the Belgians win the clinching doubles point). Peliwo was a fill in due to the absence of Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil who were injured, and he showed he’s still not ready for a top tier level of competition. His career seems to have stalled a bit at 21 years of age. Peliwo, who reached two junior slam finals, and won two junior slams in 2012, has yet to break the top 200 in the ATP rankings.

Further down in Group 1 ties, South Korea’s Hyeon Chung won an opening singles rubber against Uzbekistan’s Farrukh Dustov but came down injured in what would be a decisive fourth rubber as he retired against Denis Istomin, ending the tie. 23 year old Yuki Bhambri who has flirted with a breakthrough but has yet to truly make his move, helped India reach the world group playoffs with a pair of singles wins over New Zealand.

In Europe’s group 1 Russia’s Andrey Rublev became a teenage hero, while Dominic Thiem‘s collapse cost Austria a shot at the world group. Rublev lost a Friday singles rubber to Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo in straight sets and stated after “within a year I’ll beat you (Robredo) without effort”, that cocky talk drew criticism, but quite frankly the 17 year old backed up his big mouth, with a big game, as he and his teammates clawed back in the tie and Rublev clinched a live 5th rubber over ATP regular Pablo Andujar without dropping a set. After years in the wilderness, Russian men’s tennis may well be back to a sustainable future.

Thiem went an atrocious 5/31 on break points, and had 8 double faults against the Netherlands Thiemo De Bakker, losing that match in five sets from 2-1 up, and then he lost the tie with a straight set loss to Robin Haase in the 4th rubber, as he suffered two losses to players ranked lower than himself, on home soil in Kitzbuhel, on his best surface, clay. This weekend could well weigh on Thiem for some time to come.

Closing on a brighter note, Chile’s Christian Garin, age 19, helped Chile close out Mexico 5-0 in a Group 2 tie. Garin, like Bhambri, and Peliwo, has yet to truly reach the ATP stage, but he continues to show flashes of talent, especially on clay, and that time could be coming soon. Experience still clearly plays a role in Davis Cup however, as 34 year old Victor Estrella pushed his small, and impoverished nation the Dominican Republic into the world group playoffs as he played a part in every rubber they won.

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