Saretta saves match point, to win thriller opening match
More than 26 hours after it was originally due to start, the play-off tie between Sweden and Brazil finally got underway. On a clay court completely redone after rain threatened to compromise the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas weekend, the Belo Horizonte supporters were able to watch an incredible battle. An encounter which saw Andreas Vinciguerra come one point away from victory, before Flavio Saretta, carried by an overwhelming crowd, reversed the situation and won 64 16 36 62 75 after four hours and four minutes of battle.
A rematch of 2003 battle gave Saretta inspiration
For Saretta, the memories of the decisive Davis Cup match lost to Vinciguerra early 2003 in Helsingborg, gave him that much more motivation to start the tie on a good note, against the very same opponent.
And it seemed to go his way as he captured the opening set 64 against a more nervous Vinciguerra who is making his comeback in Davis Cup after more than a three years absence. The crowd of the Expo Minas were thrilled, loudly encouraging its country, yet without crossing the boundaries of fair play.
Yet, as Vinciguerra started feeling more comfortable, the momentum changed. Finding some incredible angles with his forehand, the Swede began to dictate play. Vinciguerra captured the second set 61, then broke in the fifth game of the third to win it 63.
First five-set match for Vinciguerra in three years
However it was far from over. Instead of surfing on the winning wave, the Swede who hasn’t played a best of five sets match for three years, started accumulating unforced errors. Saretta jumped on the occasion, and won the set 62, imposing a decisive fifth set.
The tension was extreme. In the second game, Saretta hit an easy forehand into the net allowing Vinciguerra to break on his sixth opportunity. A little later, the Swede was leading 4-1. But Saretta was determined to fight until he dropped. Overwhelmed by the crowd cheering and singing, he was taking his chances on every occasion, breaking back in the seventh game. Yet, at 5-4 for the Swede, a backhand mistake from the Brazilian offered “Vinci” a match point. Vinciguerra couldn’t capitalize, hitting a backhand into the net. Saretta wasn’t to lose any more games. Pumped up like never before, he broke in the 11th game. Serving for the match at 6-5, he jumped on his chance on his first match point. As Vinciguerra”s forehand return landed wide, Saretta dropped on his back. He had just offered his country an amazing first point.
Saretta's first Davis Cup Match in Brazil produced an amazing feeling
“This is incredible. Definitely the most important victory of my life. It was the first time I was playing Davis Cup in Brazil in front of 8000 people, and coming back after almost losing the match gave me an amazing feeling” Saretta said. “I feel I played two different types of tennis today. I started out defensive and nervous, and had I continued this way I would have had no chance. But I played a much more aggressive tennis in the fourth and the fifth set, and that made the difference” he added.
“This was a hell of a match. I’m so proud of Flavio,” captain Fernando Meligeni said. “I gave it my best, but Flavio played better on the big points. He deserved it,” said a respectful Vinciguerra.
The second rubber was carried over until Sunday due to failing light.