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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, November 30, 2021

 
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Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz roared through seven straight points edging Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski 7-6, 7-6 to seal Germany's Davis Cup semifinal spot.

Photo credit: Adam Pretty/Getty

Rebounding from an imperfect start, Germany’s perfect pair powered through pressure clinching its first Davis Cup semifinal in 14 years.

Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz saved four set points in the first-set tiebreaker and roared back from 0-5 down in the second-set breaker edging Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski 7-6(10), 7-6(5) in today's decisive doubles. Krawietz and Puetz surged through seven straight points sealing Germany’s thrilling 2-1 conquest of Great Britain in the Davis Cup quarterfinals played behind closed doors in Innsbruck.

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It was a gritty performance from the dynamic German pair, who avenged the nation’s 2019 Davis Cup defeat to Great Britain and snapped a streak of six straight quarterfinal losses.




“I think just great persistency—whatever you want to call it,” Puetz said. “I thought it was pretty high level. I think it showed and culminated in the tiebreak us being down 5-0. And just persistence keep us going, believing in ourselves and playing point by point and here we are.”

Though the two Germans are certainly not the biggest stars in a nation that boasts world No. 3 Alexander Zverev, who opted out of quarterfinals, they proved again why they are two of the most important players on the squad.

Krawietz and Puetz remain perfect in Davis Cup play—the 29-year-old Krawietz is 6-0 and the 34-year-old Puetz is 7-0—including their pulsating 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Nikola Cacic clinching a 2-1 round-robin win over Serbia on Saturday.

Now, the undefeated pair send Germany into Saturday’s semifinals at the Madrid Arena where it will face either Group A champion Russian Tennis Federation or Sweden for a spot in the final.

“I’m super happy we are going to Madrid,” Krawietz said. “The whole team is great.

“The box today weas unbelievably loud. No spectators but we hear everything [from teammates]. We are super happy to make it through to semifinals.”

When Puetz pounded a forehand return into the corner to end it, the entire German team embraced in a group hug and whirled in a celebrated show of unity.




A glorious finish for Germany came after a horrific start to today’s play.

Daniel Evans dissected an uneasy Peter Gojowczyk 6-2, 6-1 in a 55-minute thrashing staking Great Britain to a 1-0 lead.

Ten-time champion Team GB was one win from a trip to its second straight semifinal.

Germany turned to 31-year-old Jan-Lennard Struff to ignite its comeback.

The 51st-ranked Struff saved two set points in the tie breaker topping 12th-ranked Cameron Norrie 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2 to level this quarterfinal at one match apiece and set the stage of the decisive doubles match.

“I’m very happy with the way I played today,” Struff said. “Cameron Norrie is a very tough competitor, who is fighting very hard.

“The court is very bouncy and his spin-balls are very hard to play. The victory is very important for us now, one-all.”

Skupski was serving at 5-6 to force a first-set tie breaker when he badly bungled a smash to face set point but saved it with a good serve down the T. Skupski, who repeatedly hurt Germany serving down the middle, withstood the stress test holding to force the tiebreaker.

In a breaker of dizzying drama, the Germans fought off four set points—at 4-6, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10—as Krawietz conjured memories of the young Boris Becker with a diving volley at one point.




Facing a fourth set point, Puetz saved it then hit a sharp wide serve giving Germany a third set point at 11-10.

A clever lob return from Puetz cleared space and he closed with conviction knocking off a volley to close a thrilling opening set in 65 minutes.

The second set featured four love holds in the first 10 games. Puetz picked up his play again under pressure pumping a second-serve ace and carving an exquisite low volley winner as he held to level 5-all.

Facing a dire 0-5 deficit in the second-set tie breaker the German side came alive with seven straight points. Puetz pumped successive stinging serves to stake Germany to match point at 6-5.

Reading the T serve from Skupski, Puetz pounded a forehand return right off the line closing fierce two hour, two-minute triumph in style.

The Brits looked poised for a semifinal return after Evan’s dominant performance. Struff started strong pressuring Norrie’s serve and breaking at 15 for a 2-0 lead. A forceful Struff extended to 4-1.

In the seventh game, Norrie made his move. Pouncing on a net-cord shot, Norrie spun a forehand approach into the corner for triple break point. Struff saved all three but double faulted to face a fourth break point. Reading the serve-and-volley, Norrie challenged Struff with a shin-high return than banged a backhand pass to break back for 3-4.

Bursting up to a short net cord shot, Norrie leaped for a high volley then thumped a smash breaking for 6-5 after 43 minutes. Struff wasn’t done. The sturdy German attacked net eliciting an errant pass to break back and force the tie breaker.




Sliding a serve out wide, Norrie cracked a forehand down the line for two set points at 6-4. On the first, Norrie sailed a backhand. On the second, Struff dug out a fine volley then snapped a fantastic stretch volley winner. Struff’s stick save sparked a four-point run that saw him stick a crosscourt backhand to take a one-set lead after 58 frenetic minutes.

Undeterred, Norrie whipped a forehand winner behind the German then broke for a 4-2 second-set lead when Struff’s forehand crashed into the tape and crawled back over on his side.

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Hitting a forehand down the line, Norrie made a delayed net rush and dug out an exceptional angled volley stretching his lead to 5-2.

The Indian Wells champion crashed his second ace to seal the second set and force a decider after one hour, 28 minutes of play.




Struff saved a break point holding to start the final set. Struff tightened up the screws on the Briton’s serve in the seventh game. Dabbing a drop volley brought Struff a third break point and he broke for 4-2 on a Norrie error.

The 31-year-old German ran through the final four games slashing a backhand return winner to close a two-hour win and force the decisive doubles.

 

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