Germany and Belarus are locked at 1-1 heading into the second day of their Davis Cup qualifier in Dusseldorf.
Germany vs Belarus is live from Dusseldorf on Saturday, 7 March from 12pm local/11am GMT
Location: Dusseldorf, Germany
Venue: Castello Düsseldorf
Surface: Hard (indoors)
Germany: Jan-Lennard Struff, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Dominik Koepfer, Kevin Krawietz, Andreas Mies, Michael Kohlmann (captain)
Belarus: Egor Gerasimov, Ilya Ivashka, Daniil Ostapenkov, Andrei Vasilevski, Dzianis Zharyn, Dzmitry Zhrymont (captain)
Order of play:
Day 1 (play starts at 4pm local/3pm GMT)
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) def. Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-4
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) def. Philipp Kohlscheiber (GER) 4-6 7-5 7-6
Day 2 (play starts at 12pm local/11am GMT)
Kevin Kravietz/ Andreas Mies (GER) vs Egor Gerasimov/ Andrei Vasilevski (BLR)
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) vs Egor Gerasimov (BLR)
Philipp Kohlscheiber (GER) vs Ilya Ivashka (BLR)
NB: Player nominations can change until an hour before the start of play
Jan-Lennard Struff gave the home nation the lead with a straight sets victory over Ilya Ivashka in the tie’s opening rubber, but Egor Gerasimov dragged Belarus level with a come-from-behind win over German veteran, Philipp Kohlschreiber later in the day.
With the contest tantalizingly poised at 1-1, Saturday should be a cracking day of Davis Cup tennis in Dusseldorf.
Day 2 preview and analyses
World No. 34, Struff expectedly got Germany off to a winning start on Friday, powering to a 6-4 6-4 victory over Ivashka. Striking 18 aces and winning 87% of points on his first serve, the German saved all five break points he faced, and broke once in each set to see off his Belarusian opponent.
Germany have the option of calling on Struff for the doubles rubber, but they will most likely stick with the original doubles pair of Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies for Saturday’s opening match.
Krawietz and Mies, French Open doubles champions in 2019, will get the day’s action underway against the Belarusian duo of Gerasimov and Andrei Vasilevski. Ranked 13th and 14th respectively in the world doubles rankings, Krawietz and Mies head into the tie as massive favourites to give Germany a 2-1 lead. They are however relatively inexperienced in Davis Cup ties, having only made their debuts at the Finals in Madrid last November. The German duo won both of their doubles matches.
Vasilevski, at No. 75, is the highest ranked doubles player in the visitor’s squad while Gerasimov hardly plays any doubles and is placed outside the top 1000.
If Germany as expected get the win over Belarus in the doubles rubber, then they will have the chance to seal the tie when Struff faces Gerasimov in the first of the reverse singles.
Struff is spearheading his country’s challenge in the absence of top-ten star, Alexander Zverev, and he did a good job at that on Friday, beating Ivashka to give Germany the lead. That victory over pushed him to 6-5 in Davis Cup singles rubbers, and ended a two-match losing streak in the competition.
Struff’s current ranking of 34th is just one shy of his career high ranking, which he attained last season. Following his career best 2019, during which he compiled a 34-27 record, the 29-year-old won just one of his first four matches in 2020, but he found some form in most recent tour event in Dubai, beating Roberto Bautista-Agut and Nikoloz Basilashvili, before losing a tight quarter final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
He’ll possibly get a chance to win this Davis Cup tie for his country when he faces Gerasimov on Saturday.
This will by no means be easy, as Gerasimov has been in fine form leading up to this Davis Cup tie. The 27-year-old reached the final in Pune and the quarter finals in Marseille, and he showed plenty of that form in Dusseldorf on Friday as he battled back from behind to force a 4-6 7-5 7-6 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Ranked 68th in the world, Gerasimov improves to 18-6 in Davis Cup ties, and represents a big obstacle to Germany’s ambitions of reaching the Davis Cup Finals.
Should this tie remain level after four rubbers, it will come down to a winner-takes-all fifth rubber between Philipp Kohlschreiber and Ilya Ivashka. Both players lost their respective singles matches on Friday, and will be keen to make amends with the tie clinching victory.
The captains of course have the option of altering their line-ups- German captain, German coach, Michael Kohlmann might seriously consider bringing in Dominik Koepfer- but I think both nations will stick to their original plans.
The doubles rubber will be vital to the outcome of this tie- if Krawietz and Mies can give Germany the lead, then either Struff or Kohlschreiber should be able to pick up the remaining point to send the hosts into November’s Finals.