Ahen the decisive match point was converted and the final victory dance was over, no one really knew how it all happened. How on earth did the German tennis players in Hamburg manage to qualify for the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the fourth time in a row? And that as early and as sensationally as possible, after two shaky victories from the first two group games and without their exceptional talent Alexander Zverev?
The word "luck" was used conspicuously after the 2-1 victories against France and Belgium, which prevented participation in the final round at the end of November Malaga secured. But nobody can have that much luck in so few games, right?
Fascinating and unpredictable
Kevin Krawietz struggled for an explanation before the final group game against Australia, but ultimately only had a vague statement of faith to offer: "We are very happy that we had the Davis Cup God on our side."
Then the doubles specialist, who got the curve twice at the last minute with colleague Tim Pütz and contributed the decisive point, sent even more vague things afterwards: "Maybe we deserved it somewhere." Maybe, somewhere - the national players didn't seem to feel happy to trust.
But maybe you have to accept it that way. There are successes that can hardly be explained: why a tennis ball lands on the line and not a few millimeters off; why a strong opponent suddenly shows weak nerves after two or three rallies; why a pro with battered confidence like Jan Lennard Struff suddenly plays bravely and wins two singles as a Zverev successor. The simplest explanation for everything is: That's tennis. So unpredictable. So fascinating.
"It was drama at the end"
The two matches that Struff won in singles and Krawietz/Pütz in doubles could all easily have ended in defeat. Struff had to fend off two match balls against the French Benjamin Bonzi, against Zizou Bergs it was just a bit less dramatic.
Who knows what would have happened if the Belgian had used one of his seven set points in the second half? "It was drama at the end," said Struff. "If you give just one percent less, you lose the thing."
The Coburg Krawietz and the Frankfurt Pütz irritated the Davis Cup god, in whom they apparently believe, to the extreme. If you take a quick look at their statistics, you will see nothing but dominance: seven matches together, seven victories, Krawietz and Pütz are also unbeaten with other partners in the team competition. If you take a closer look, the two buddies often jumped off the shovel at the last moment.
Both against France and against Belgium, Krawietz/Pütz only won the decisive third set in the tie-break; against the Belgians Gille/Vliegen they had already lost 2:5 before they scored five points in a row.
"It's not like we smoke the voodoo pipe together and win because of it," said Pütz. You have to work for your luck and calmly deal with setbacks: "If you somehow stick with it, you win two games more than if you stick your head in the sand or throw the ball somewhere out of anger," explained Pütz the difficult to explain. The support of the Hamburg audience did the rest, even if the Center Court at Rothenbaum was sparsely filled for days.
Málaga comes too early for Zverev
Anyway: After the inhospitable days in Hamburg, where the wind howled and the rain lashed around the covered square, the selection of the German has changed tennis Bund (DTB) deserves a place in the Spanish sun.
For Zverev, who had to watch in his hometown because of bone edema in his right foot, the trip to the Davis Cup final round from November 22nd to 27th is probably too early. According to his own statements, the Tokyo Olympic champion may be out for months.
As much as he would miss his sporting leader, the DTB team boss strongly advises Michael Kohlman to be patient: Zverev shouldn't ask too much of himself too soon. Even if he should have recovered by the final round, the 25-year-old would be missing almost half a year of match practice.
After the surprising happiness of Hamburg Kohlmann is not afraid of the team having to play again without their star in Málaga. "We are an unpleasant opponent for every country," said the team boss, "I don't know of any team from which we have to hide."
Last year, the DTB selection failed in the semi-finals because of the later Davis Cup winner Russia. The team boss is hoping for at least as good a result for Málaga. After the positive development that the team has taken in recent years, "the quarter-finals would not be enough for me," said Kohlmann: "We intend to go far." The team is experienced enough in gambling.