For the first time in 10 years, the United States has won a World Group Davis Cup tie away on clay. Andy Roddick clinched the tie for the team in a four-set victory over the Czech No. 1 Tomas Berdych. (Incidentally, his girlfriend Lucie Safarova lost her final in Paris today as well.)
It was far and away the best best-of-five claycourt match I've ever seen Andy play. He agreed. "As far as the weight of the situation goes," he said, "it definitely could be one of my best matches on clay."
"We saw today why Andy Roddick is the fourth best player in the world," Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil said.
Perhaps I better publish a few more fleeting thoughts.
His backhand down the line was working, as was his slice and even a few drop shots, all good strategies against a tall player who doesn't like to run or bend down to dig up shots. But I was most impressed with Andy's demeanor throughout the encounter. He was so focused and even-keeled, he hardly celebrating the victory. He looked as though he was ready to play another set. I so enjoy when American tennis players prove their naysayers wrong.
In the dead rubber, Bob Bryan subbed for James Blake and won the match 7-6(5), 6-4. Perhaps somebody heard me. Maybe Blake will prove me wrong in the near future.
The US will take on Spain, on the back of Fernando Verdasco's win, in the quarterfinals in April in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, most likely on indoor hard. We'll look to avenge the loss in the 2004 final in Spain on clay.
The best of the rest
In other action, Belgium overcame Australia in the deciding rubber. After Hewitt battled to five-set victory over Oliver Rochus, Kristof Vliegen's straight-set victory over Chris Guccione made him the host nation's hero. Belgium will host Germany who closed out Croatia when Tommy Haas dismissed Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets.
Teenager Juan Martin del Potro replaced Jose Acacuso and clenched the tie for Argentina in a star-making five-set thriller over homeboy Jurgen Melzer. (Incidentally, the WTA final today in Pattaya City featured an Austrian, Sybille Bammer, against an Argentinean, Gisela Dulko. The Austrian prevailed in three tights sets.) Argentina will next travel to Sweden who advanced to the quarterfinas when Robin Soderling outlasted Max Mirnyi in five sets in the fourth rubber, breaking the unbeaten winning streak of Belarus at home.
Richard Gasquet became the King of France when he clenched the tie for France with a straight-set victory over Romania's Andrei Pavel. France will face Russia in a rematch of last year's quarterfinal. Igor Andreev was the Russian hero once again as he closed out the tie in the fifth-rubber with a four-set victory over Nicolas Massu.
Savannah's Round 1 Photo Essay