João Sousa is surprised and Portugal has a complicated mission
João Sousa was defeated, this Saturday, by Tomas Machac and left the Portuguese tennis team with a complicated mission against the Czech Republic, being forced to win the three meetings on Sunday to access the Davis Cup Finals.
The national number one, 84th in the ATP ranking, was not able to confirm the theoretical favoritism against the young opponent, 22 years old, who occupies the 122nd place in the same hierarchy, and ended up losing in three sets, with the partials of 7-6 (8-6), 3-6 and 6-2, to the end of two hours and 50 minutes.
Sousa, 33 years old, even entered the game very well, authoritative, confident and commanding the points against Machac, who needed some time to adapt and face the host, who easily reached a 3-0 lead.
Machac, who had won the only direct confrontation between the two, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, reacted with a counter break in the fifth game (3-2) and managed to take the decision from the initial set to the tie-break, after the Minho wasted a ‘set point’ at 6-6. At the time of all the decisions, Sousa wasted a second set point and the young opponent was not begged, ending the ‘troubleshooting’ at the first opportunity.
The beginning of the second set was marked by a game of nerves, on both sides, but Sousa managed to recover the good level shown to open the dispute and, despite having been broken twice, imposed four breaks on the opponent and returned to reestablish the score equality.
Despite having created good expectations for the decisive set, thanks to four consecutive games, the most experienced player of the Portuguese team was wasteful, missing six opportunities to close the third game, and was faced with eight break points.
Sousa gave in and Machac, who was apparently suffering some physical problems, grabbed the advantage to not let go, confirming the triumph with a second ‘break’ in the seventh game, before closing the duel at the second ‘match point’.
Consummated the triumphs of Jiri Lehecka and Tomas Machac against Nuno Borges and João Sousa, respectively, Portugal is forced to win the three meetings on Sunday to beat the Czech Republic and guarantee, for the first time in history, qualification for the finals of the Davis Cup, competition that the opposing nation has won on three occasions (1980, 2012 and 2013).