Germany Opens Davis Cup Finals Home Campaign With Win

Team Germany (photo: e-motion/Paul Zimmer)

HAMBURG, September 14, 2022 (by Dietmar Kaspar)

Germany opened their home campaign in Group C of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals in Hamburg on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over 10-time champion France. It marked Germany’s first Davis Cup triumph over France since July 1938, having lost their previous eight meetings.

Struff wins dramatic battle

In the opening rubber, former World No. 29 Jan-Lennard Struff from Germany met 26-year-old Benjamin Bonzi, ranked World No. 53, for the first time. Warstein-born Struff gained the only break of the opening set in the fifth game to take the lead. Bonzi fought back with an early 3-0 lead to and breaking his 32-year-old rival for the second time to level the match. In a deciding set like a roller-coaster, Struff saved two match points at the score of 4-5 and converted his own fourth chance to secure a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 victory in two hours and 14 minutes.

“It was a close match with a lot of ups and downs especially in the third set,” said 132nd-ranked Struff. “I think the small difference was the home advantage with the great support from the spectators and my team, so I am very happy to get this win. I started really good into the match and was the active part to put pressure on him and deserved to win the first set. In the second set I got some trouble in my game because the confidence was not so high due to my last results and he came better into this match. In the deciding set it was important that I was focused and played with an offensive game style.”

Veteran Mannarino dominates debutant Otte

In the match of the two top-ranked players, World No. 52 Oscar Otte made his debut for three-time Davis Cup champion Germany by taking on 34-year-old Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. In their first meeting, left-handed Mannarino converted three of his six break-point chances without facing a break point against 29-year-old Otte to succeed 6-4, 6-3 in 81 minutes.

“I am so happy that I leveled the tie today. It is never easy playing a match under pressure after a loss in the first rubber, but I played really well and consistent the entire match and I was able to keep the level very high,” World No. 47 Mannarino said.

Krawietz/Puetz remain unbeaten in Davis Cup

Both team captains nominated their expected doubles for the deciding rubber. Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz, who won all their Davis Cup matches for Germany, faced the French duo of Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknech. The German tandem dominated the first set, but Team France fought back to level the match. In a thrilling decider with both doubles earning one break, the unbeaten Germans won the tiebreak to seal a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (1) victory.

“Today it was like a roller-coaster, something we experienced pretty often in the Davis Cup in the last years,” Germany’s team captain Michael Kohlmann said. “The tie remembered me of the encounter against Serbia in Innsbruck last year where we also had a tough first singles match, suffering a loss against Novak Djokovic followed by a thrilling win in doubles. In a couple of moments, we were lucky today and our home crowd, especially in the doubles, gave us so much support. The win of the tie was very important for us because it is very difficult to come back in this competitive group after losing the opening tie.”

Coming up

Group-stage action will continue tomorrow with France against Australia. Play at the Rothenbaum Tennis Stadium in Hamburg will start at 2 p.m. CET.

Wednesday’s Results

Germany – France 2-1

Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) – Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5

Oscar Otte (GER) – Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4, 6-3

Kevin Krawietz/Tim Puetz (GER) – Nicolas Mahut/Arthur Rinderknecht (FRA) 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (1)