Alcaraz sends Spain into last 8 of Davis Cup Finals

Sep 18, 2022, 12:04 AM | Updated: 1:42 pm
Italy's Matteo Berrettini in action against Sweden's Elias Ymer during the Davis Cup tennis match I...

Italy's Matteo Berrettini in action against Sweden's Elias Ymer during the Davis Cup tennis match Italy against Sweden at the Unipol Arena in Bologna, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)

(Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)

Carlos Alcaraz is producing the goods for his country as well as himself.

Seven days after winning his first Grand Slam tournament, the top-ranked Alcaraz beat Kwon Soon-woo in straight sets in the Davis Cup Finals to secure Spain victory over South Korea and a spot in the quarterfinals as Group B winner.

The U.S. Open champion pumped his fists by his side and yelled in celebration after Kwon sent a forehand long to hand the Spanish teenager a 6-4, 7-6 (1) victory in front of a passionate home crowd in Valencia on Sunday.

It was Alcaraz’s first win since beating Casper Ruud in the U.S. Open final last Sunday to also become the youngest man to lead the ATP computerized rankings since they began in 1973.

“Playing the Davis Cup here is an honor for me,” Alcaraz said. “But it’s even better to come here being No. 1 in the world and U.S. Open champion, to share this moment with all my people, my family, my friends.

“I’m really happy to live this moment right now and to share this moment with all of them.”

Alcaraz sat out Spain’s opening 3-0 win over Serbia on Wednesday and lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in a 2-1 upset for Canada on Friday.

But the 19-year-old Alcaraz was back to his best on Sunday, with some shots that had the crowd on their feet. Kwon also played inspired tennis and their trainers squeaked on the hard court as both ran frantically in lengthy rallies, returning shots that at times seemed unplayable.

Roberto Bautista Agut had got Spain off to a great start with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Hong Seong-chan. Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martínez beat Nam Ji-sung and Song Min-kyu 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in the doubles for a 3-0 win to Spain.

The result sends Spain through to the final eight in November, when it will face Group A runner-up Croatia. It will also be on home turf for Spain as the single-venue quarterfinals will be played in the southern city of Málaga in November.

Three other venues — Bologna in Italy, Hamburg, Germany and Glasgow, Scotland — were hosting group-stage matches.

Italy was already assured a place in the quarterfinals but it secured top spot in Group A with a 2-1 victory over Sweden and a matchup against Group D runner-up the United States.

Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli won the deciding doubles, beating André Göransson and Dragos Nicolae Madaras 7-6 (2), 6-2.

Sweden had needed a 3-0 win over Italy to progress and its hopes were dashed when Matteo Berrettini eased to a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Elias Ymer, whose younger brother Mikael Ymer then went on to beat Jannik Sinner 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

In Germany, Kevin Krawietz and Tim Pütz eased past Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4 to secure a 2-1 win for Germany over Australia and top spot in Group C.

Both were already assured of a place in the quarterfinals before the start of the day’s play. Jan-Lennard Struff beat Purcell 6-1, 7-5 for his third straight victory this week before Thanasi Kokkinakis pulled Australia level with a 7-6 (6), 6-1 victory over Oscar Otte.

Germany will play Canada in the quarterfinals with Australia facing the Netherlands.

The Netherlands won Group D on Saturday, progressing with the U.S. That meant Great Britain or Kazakhstan had little to play for in their match in Glasgow. But Andy Murray, playing in possibly his final Davis Cup match, set his team on the way to a 2-1 win in the city of his birth. Murray beat Dmitry Popko 6-4, 6-3.

___

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Alcaraz sends Spain into last 8 of Davis Cup Finals