Davis Cup: Jan-Lennard Struff the hero for Germany as Poland comeback falls short

After levelling the score with an upset victory in the first singles rubber on Sunday, Poland could not complete the comeback as Germany hung on for a 3-2 win in the world group playoff between the neighbours.

Davis Cup: Jan-Lennard Struff the hero for Germany as Poland comeback falls short
Jan-Lennard Struff celebrates clinching the tie for Germany. Photo: Davis Cup
Germany
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Poland

After blowing a major lead in their Davis Cup world group playoff with Poland, Germany found a way to hang on for victory on Sunday when Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets in the fifth rubber to send Germany back into the Davis Cup world group in 2017 by defeating Poland 3-2.

A day after a comeback victory in the doubles gave Poland life, Kamil Majchrzak upset Florian Mayer to send the tie to a deciding rubber. But in the final match, Hurkacz could not maintain early leads in the first two sets and Struff took advantage, battling to a straight-sets victory.

Majchrzak keeps Poland alive

Knowing that nothing less than a win would be enough to give Poland any hope of staying in the Davis Cup world group, Majchrzak came out swinging in the fourth rubber. He raced out of the gate, winning the first four games of the match, breaking Mayer twice. Mayer had started slowly in his first rubber only to claw back and appeared to be doing it again as he stopped the run with a break of his own. At 4-2, Majchrzak had to battle through a tough service game and save another break point before holding. It would prove to be crucial, as he broke Mayer again to claim the opening set.

Majchrzak chases down a forehand. Photo: Davis Cup
Majchrzak chases down a forehand. Photo: Davis Cup

The second set was tight, with both men taking care of their own service games until the late stages when Majchrzak blinked at the worst possible moment. Serving at 4-4, the Pole fell behind 0-40 and could only save the first two break points as Mayer converted the third and served out the set in the following game. Unlike his first rubber when Mayer turned things around after claiming the second set, he was back under the gun immediately in the third. In his first service game, he had to battle back from 0-40 down and save break points, battling through six deuces just to hold. It was only a matter of time, however, as Majchrzak would break him to love in the next game.

The Pole would break again to claim the set. The Pole was doing well on his own serve, which mounted the pressure on Mayer to hold. In the fourth, the German hung with Majchrzak early, saving a break point in the second game, before surrendering the crucial break in the sixth game. That was all the Pole would need as he took care of business on his own serve, holding his last two service games to wrap up a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory, levelling the tie at 2-2 and sending it to a fifth a deciding rubber.

Blown leads sink Polish comeback

With the tie even for the first time since early Friday, Hurkacz had an opportunity to complete the epic comeback for Poland and got off on the right foot, following Majchrzak’s lead by breaking serve in his first return game to grab an immediate lead. In his match on Friday against Mayer, Hurkacz had struggled to maintain leads and unfortunately for the Poles that trend continued on Sunday as he would give the break right back to Struff. At 4-4, Struff broke to give himself a chance to serve out the set, but was broken right back. It happened again at 5-5, with the German breaking and failing to serve out the set. Finally, Struff was able to put Hurkacz away in the tiebreak 7-4 to take the first set.

Struff lines up a short forehand during his victory in the fifth rubber. Photo: Davis Cup
Struff lines up a short forehand during his victory in the fifth rubber. Photo: Davis Cup

Trying to turn things around, Hurkacz broke in the first game of the second set and this time managed to consolidate. But he could not maintain the lead for long, as Struff would break back and level at 2-2. Just like the first set, the German broke to give himself a chance to serve out the set and this time made no mistake, holding to move to within a set of victory. Up two-sets-to-love, the momentum was firmly with Struff, as the German raced ahead 3-0 in the third set. He would break again to give himself a chance to serve out the match. He needed to save a break point, but Struff held on to claim victory for Germany.

The Germans win the tie 3-2 and will compete in the 2017 Davis Cup world group, while Poland will be relegated to the Europe/Africa zone.