| Carlos Moya won the deciding tie for Spain
Zwolle: The Netherlands completed a 5-0 sweep of India in their David Cup World Group playoff on Sunday when Raemon Sluiter beat Prakash Amritraj 6-1, 6-3.
Earlier, Sjeng Schalken beat Harsh Mankad 6-3, 6-1 to give the Netherlands a 4-0 lead in the tie that was decided in Saturday’s doubles. Schalken, with two ATP titles this year, kept Mankad pinned to the baseline. He broke the Indian in the seventh and ninth games of the first set, and romped through the first five games of the second set.
Mankad, playing his third year of Davis Cup, replaced an exhausted Rohan Bopanna, who lost an epic five-set match to Martin Verkerk on Friday.
Bopanna earned the respect of the Dutch with his gritty four-and-half an hour singles battle and with his doubles performance on Saturday.
Verkerk and John Van Lottum beat Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi on Saturday in four sets to clinch a place for the Netherlands in the World Group, while India remained in the Asia/Oceania group.
Sluiter, Verkerk’s normal doubles partner, missed Saturday’s competition to attend the funeral of his former manager and mentor Cees Veen. On court after the match, he paid a tearful tribute to his friend as the final act of the tie, and later said he had been anxious to play on Sunday to make “a new beginning.”
India’s non-playing captain Ramesh Krishnan said he was disappointed his team failed to get back into the World Group, where it had been a fixture until 1998. “We are getting stuck at this level,” he said.
Moya, Hewitt shine
Carlos Moya put Spain into the Davis Cup final against Australia by outplaying Argentina’s Gaston Gaudio in the deciding tie of their semi-final in Malaga on Sunday. Moya became the Spanish hero with his second singles victory of the match 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. It came as a great relief to a packed home crowd who had been stunned to see world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero lose in straight sets 4-6, 5-7, 1-6 to Agustin Calleri in the first of the reverse singles to level at 2-2.
Australia earlier defeated Switzerland 3-2 in Melbourne, Lleyton Hewitt grabbing the winning point in a five-set thriller against Roger Federer. Todd Woodbridge retired after losing the first set 4-6 to Michel Kratochvil in the dead fifth match, thus making it a 3-2 verdict in favour of Australia.
Hewitt looked down for the count as the Wimbledon champion closed in on an apparent straight-set win, but somehow the Australian found that little bit extra to pull off one of his greatest victories.
Hewitt’s 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5, 6-1 triumph clinched the tie in the fourth singles rubber after Australia had edged in front winning Saturday’s doubles in five sets.