HANNOVER, March 6, 2016
The Czech team celebrated their victory at the end of reverse singles day at the TUI Arena in Hannover, as Lukas Rosol cruised past Alexander Zverev in the decisive fifth rubber of the Davis Cup first round tie 6-2, 6-3, 6-1. In the first match of the day Philipp Kohlschreiber benefited from the retirement of Tomas Berdych, leading two sets to love.
Kohlschreiber had a strong start into the fourth rubber, gaining an early break against Berdych in the fifth game. After that, the Czech left the court for a medical timeout. The world number seven was indicating he might have a problem with his left upper thigh, losing two sets 4-6, 5-7 before he eventually decided to retire after one hour and 41 minutes.
“It happened very early, I think it was the second or third game when I ran for a drop shot and then stretched for the passing shot and I felt pain in my right hamstring,” Berdych explained. “The treatment helped for a while, but basically that was it. I knew it wasn’t getting better and I couldn’t play on the level that I wanted to. There was no chance I could finish the match.”
Kohlschreiber was pleased with his performance. “I had a strong start into the match and Kohle (Michael Kohlmann) pushed me all the way. Fans created a great atmosphere right from the beginning. It was a special support,” he told after his match.
“Of course, Tomas wasn’t at 100 percent. He had to play more than 4 hours on Friday, as well as some intense doubles. It doesn’t feel as good as I would have ended the encounter with a match point.”
So it was the fifth rubber, which had to decide the tie when Davis Cup debutant Alexander Zverev took on Lukas Rosol.
After a bright start, the 18-year-old pumped the ball long to hand two set points to Lukas Rosol. The first one sailed past but Zverev netted to hand the Czechs the crucial first set. Zverev got broken again right at the start of the second set. The teenager was gently urged on by the German bench and the home crowd but looked rattled and showed some signs of frustration. Playing a decisive fifth rubber in your very first Davis Cup tie was a daunting task. It was a difficult day for the youngster, struggling to find any sort of rhythm. Rosol was very solid throughout the match and took the second set before he cruised through the third, securing the win for the Czechs after one hour and 38 minutes.
“It was an important match for the team and a special feeling for me, as I have never played when it was 2-2. I think that I was a bit more experienced than Sascha in the end,” Rosol said.
“He started very well and I just tried to hold a couple of my own service games, which I did and then I broke him and the match went a little bit my way.”
The Germans, who lost a Davis Cup tie in Hannover for the first time, will head into the World Group Play-Offs in July. The Czechs are going to host France in the quarterfinals.