The 24-country field at the Davis Cup Qualifiers that will take place between February 1-2 has finally been completed after the last Group I match of the season in Bratislava. Slovakia defeated Belarus 3-1 to reach the elite level of the Davis Cup for the first time since 2006, spending 12 years in Group 1 and losing all five World Group play-off matches they had played in the past! Now, Slovakia will have a chance to play against Kazakhstan or Canada for one of 18 spots at the very first Davis Cup finals that will take place in November next year.
This was the second meeting between Slovakia and Belarus and the second win for Slovakia who hosted rivals in the NTC Arena in Bratislava on an indoor clay court. On Friday, Martin Klizan defeated the 17-year-old Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 14 minutes to move his country in front, using his experience against the Davis Cup debutant for a commanding win.
A four-time ATP champion on clay lost just 12 points on serve, losing serve once and converting five out of seven chances to control the scoreboard all the time. The youngster couldn’t make an impact with his serve and he was inferior in the rallies, making too many errors without finding the way to impose his shots.
Martin sailed through the opener, losing just a few points on serve and breaking Zgirovsky in games four and six for a 6-1. Klizan moved 4-0 up in set number two after saving three break points in game two and he got broken in game six to at least keep the youngster in touch.
Both players served well and Klizan held at love in game 10 to deliver the first point for Slovakia. In the second rubber, Egor Gerasimov toppled Norbert Gombos 3-6 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 57 minutes for his 15th singles Davis Cup win, leveling the score at 1-1 before the deciding day on Saturday.
Gombos won one point more overall and they both converted two break chances to stay neck and neck almost during the entire match. The Slovak delivered a super fine performance in the opener, sailing through his service games and earning breaks in games three and nine for a 6-3.
Gerasimov responded with a break in the fifth game of set number two, saving a break point at 5-4 while serving for the set to bring it home and set up a decider. There, he faced no break points and Gombos couldn’t follow that pace, suffering a break in the seventh game to hand the win to his rival and switch the focus onto doubles match.
There, Martin Klizan and Filip Polasek prevailed against the Davis Cup legend Max Mirnyi and Andrei Vasilevski 6-7 6-4 6-3 in two hours and seven minutes to bring Slovakia back in front and it was all over when Klizan beat Gerasimov 6-4 6-3 in the fourth rubber to send Slovakia over the finish line.
Martin was again dominant in his service games, facing two break points and getting broken once while he scored four breaks on the other side from seven chances created. The opening set saw nine wasy holds on both sides and one break for Klizan in game three that he kept throughout the set.
The Slovak broke at love at the start of the second set and he moved 5-2 ahead with another break of serve in the seventh game. Serving for the win, Klizan wasted a match point to get broken but he secured the triumph with another break in game nine to push his country into the elite level of competition in 2019.
Slovakia vs Belarus 3-1
↓ SHOW RESULTS ↓
Martin Klizan vs Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1 6-4
Norbert Gombos vs Egor Gerasimov 6-3 4-6 4-6
Martin Klizan / Filip Polasek vs Max Mirnyi / Andrei Vasilevski 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3
Martin Klizan vs Egor Gerasimov 6-4 6-3