Well, I have completely underestimated the Czech Republic. There you go.
I gave Stepanek a good chance against Karlovic, but that somehow pales beside what actually happened. Five epic sets. A world-breaking 78 aces from Karlovic - which, to the best of my knowledge, breaks the previous record by about 20. And Stepanek still won.
I'm not a Stepanek fan really, mostly on the grounds that I find him totally creepy. But you cannot deny that the man can play ball. To withstand that kind of intense pressure and come out on top - particularly when you're facing someone who is pretty much unbreakable in a to-the-death five set... that is some serious grit. And guile. And some other stuff starting with g. You've got to applaud the man's mental toughness - facing Karlovic in that kind of fifth set is kind of like a tennis Everest. You can't count on a breaker to get you through. So kudos to you, Radek Stepanek.
And then the other match went five sets as well, though it didn't have anything like the same level of drama. Berdych triumphed over Cilic, which I personally found very surprising. Berdych has been pretty much a non-entity this year, whereas Cilic has been very much an entity. Hell, he made the quarters of the US Open, like, two seconds ago. Where has Berdych been? But Berdych is terribly talented and sometimes that will out. Still, I'm not counting Croatia out of this tie yet. We've got a lot of tennis left yet.
In the other semi, Goliath is currently whaling on David, with Ferrer and Ferrero scoring easy victories over Sela and Levy. I'd look for an inspired Israeli performance in the fourth rubber if they win the doubles... but I still don't really rate them a chance of winning a singles match. At this point, I don't know how high I rate their chances of winning a set.
And just a quick throw to the playoffs - Federer and Wawrinka are a totally mad team. They both demolished their respective Italians. And it's not something you hear often, but when Federer plays on clay, he looks just gorgeous. The way he was sliding into those shots... it was positively balletic. He played a great match and the US Open is clearly behind him. Watch out, indoor season!
Davis Cup (semi finals)
Czech Republic 2, Croatia 0
Tomas Berdych def. Marin Cilic, 6-3 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-3
Radek Stepanek def. Ivo Karlovic, 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (2-7) 16-14
Spain 2, Israel 0
David Ferrer def. Harel Levy, 6-1 6-4 6-3
Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Dudi Sela, 6-4 6-2 6-0
Bell Challenge (Quebec City)
Melinda Czink def. Nadia Petrova, 7-6 (7-4) retired
Aleksandra Wozniak def. Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-1 6-1
Lucie Safarova def. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-3 6-4
Julia Goerges def. Lilia Osterloh, 6-2 6-4
China GDD Guangzhou International Women's Open (Guangzhou)
Peng Shuai def. Alexandra Panova, 6-2 6-3
Shahar Peer def. Chang Yung-Jan, 6-3 6-1
Ayumi Morita def. Olga Savchuk, 6-3 604
Alberta Brianti def. Anastasija Sevastova, 6-4 6-2
3 weeks ago