Finland beat New Zealand in Davis Cup tie

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Finland has beat New Zealand 5-0 in the Davis Cup World Group 1 tie in Helsinki.

Needing to win the doubles rubber to keep New Zealand’s hopes alive, Michael Venus and Artem Sitak have lost 7-5,3-6,6-3 to Emil Ruusuvuori and Harri Heliovaara in a high quality one hour and 44 minute encounter.

That gave Finland the winning point and with Ajeet Rai suffering a slight hip problem, New Zealand captain Kelly Evernden opted to give Isaac Becroft (ranked 1016) a match in the first of the dead rubber reverse singles matches against world number 51 Ruusuvuori. Becroft who is just starting his professional career after playing college tennis in the US wasn’t overawed by an opponent ranked nearly 1000 places ahead of him. The Finn won 6-2 6-1 in 53 minutes.

It left Kiranpal Pannu to try to salvage something for New Zealand in the final rubber against Eero Vasa but the Finn proved too strong winning 6-2 6-3 in an hour and one minute.

The result has provided a reality check for New Zealand who although have world class doubles players, the need to improve the status/ranking of our singles players is evident if the team is to genuinely contend for a place among the elite teams in Davis Cup.

Evernden packed plenty of punches when summing up where his players are at.

“It was a great learning experience for the guys. Nobody on our team is capable of beating Ruusuvuori and we got to see him in action a little bit. So it was a valuable thing for us.” Evernden said.

“I think the reality of what needs to be done for our guys, seeing a guy that's ranked in the top 50 in the world, first hand and up close and personal, they realise that no matter what they're thinking about their ranking, 500 or 600 in the world, it’s nowhere near the level that they're seeing. He’s (Ruusuvuori) a scary dude right now and they're out there playing the best point they can possibly play and they don’t make any headway and it’s it over and over and over, and over again.” Evernden said.

Evernden felt the likes of Rai, Pannu and Becroft could take plenty of learnings away as they resume their individual careers.

“Ruusuvuori’s ball striking was so superior to anybody that we had, I think that's the thing that I wanted them to see, stand on the other side of the court, and get completely thumped out of position by a guy who's playing top 10, top 15 guys regularly in his career, and I think it was an eye opening experience for them, I think, they got a little bit of a like, oh, geez, wow, you know, it doesn't stop. And I and that's the that's the problem with playing at the low levels and playing in the seven hundreds is everybody's making mistakes on simple balls, everybody's missing shots that they should make. That doesn't happen at the top level.  If you give somebody an opportunity to win a point, they're going to put the ball in the right place, they're going to win the point, and you can’t make mistakes, and it was really valuable for the kids to see that.”

Finland will advance to the Davis Cup Qualifiers next March while New Zealand will play in the World Group 1 playoffs in a bid to avoid relegation to Group 2.

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