Doubles players Matwey Middelkoop and Wesley Kollhoff scored the decisive point on Saturday afternoon by winning their game against Peter Polanski and Brayden Schnur (7-5, 6-3).
On Friday, Butch van de Zandschulp and Talon Groenebuhr had already won the singles match, so winning the doubles was enough for the Netherlands to qualify for the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals. Spread across four cities, the top sixteen nations will compete against each other in September. Eight nations will qualify for the finals at the end of the year.
The Netherlands started as favourites in the qualifying match against Canada, which took over without top players Felix Auger-Aliassime (ninth in the world rankings) and Denis Shapovalov (13th in the world). They chose their own schedule and didn’t feel like playing on clay in The Hague, as they pitched to the hard-court masters in Miami and Indian Wells in the coming weeks.
Thus it was possible that van de Zandschulp (world number 48) and Greekpoor (world number 54), the new Dutch men’s tennis standard-bearers, faced world records 332 and 294 in their singles match. Good for the chances of victory for the Dutch, though somewhat underperformed his bill against Canada, who earlier this year – with Auger-Aliassim and Shapovalov – managed to win the ATP Cup.
Van de Zandschulp opened the showdown with a match against Alexis Galarneau. The 26-year-old Dutchman occupies a position 284 places higher in the world rankings, but there was little to notice this huge difference in the gym in The Hague. It served poorly and sometimes made a slight mistake. There were also some cute balls in between.
Van de Zandschulp handed his serve four times and survived four set points in the second set. The anger could be read on his face every now and then, as if he was also wondering why things didn’t go so smoothly on his first Davis Cup game in front of a local crowd. Not much later, he got the tiebreak (7-5, 7-6).
The Greek track had fewer problems with opponent Stephen Diez (6-4, 6-4). The 25-year-old from Harlem had enough in the first set with a 5-4 lead, but had to come back from a deficit in the second set. He lost his first game on the service and didn’t face much later from his 1-3 downturn. However, he also won the second set.
As a result, doubles specialists Kolhoff and Middelkoop, who were favorites over Robin Haas, realized that the victory was enough to determine the confrontation with Canada after three out of five matches.
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