09/10/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/10/2019 12:55
There's no denying it - Brazilians Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo are out to prove a point following their loss in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Qualifiers back in February.
With a place at the inaugural Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals in Madrid on the line, Brazil were on home turf against a Belgium side missing their No.1 player, David Goffin and talisman Steve Darcis. But with the tie all square at 1-1 after Day 1, Melo and Soares were stunned in the doubles match by Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, 6-4 7-6(4).
Kimmer Copperjans downed Thiago Monteiro to complete a hard-earned away win for the Belgians, who will face Australian and Colombia at La Caja Magica in November, while the Brazilians are left to ponder what might have been.
'They've beaten us twice,' Soares conceded, having also been part of the side that lost in Belgium in 2016. 'They got us this year again on clay, some tough matches. After 1-1 on the first day we lost the doubles, which we know is an important point for Brazil.'
'We had a chance, had a good opportunity without Goffin [in their team], but their team came and beat us in Brazil,' Melo said. 'Of course, we wanted to be in the Davis Cup Finals, so now let's do the best we can to be there next year.'
For Brazil, their 2020 Davis Cup campaign begins this week against Barbados. Victory in the Americas Group I tie means a berth in March's Davis Cup by Rakuten Qualifiers, and as hosts once more, Brazil enter the clash as favourites in their first showdown against a relatively unknown side.
'I know a lot about Darian King, but I don't know much about the rest of the team,' Soares said. 'I've played against King a couple of times - I know how good of a player he is and he likes that team environment. He's a great guy, a great player, and for sure he's going to come with a lot of fire to Brazil.'
'Davis Cup is the sort of competition where sometimes they might not have as good a ranking as us, but they can be dangerous,' Melo cautioned. 'The most important thing is for us to be there and play our best tennis, prepare the best that we can to face any team, any country.'
'Our main goal is to be in Madrid at the end of 2020,' Soares added. 'If we lose, we're not going to have a chance. The pressure is on us - we're at home, we're the favourites - so hopefully we can make it happen.'
Melo and Soares are set to play their 17th Davis Cup doubles match together on the clay of Criciuma, amassing a 12-4 record in the competition. But their playing partnership goes back far beyond their first doubles in the yellow and blue of Brazil, to their first swings of a racquet, Melo was just five years old and Soares aged seven.
'We've played a thousand matches together,' Soares said. 'We grew up together at junior events, representing our club back home, then our state, then Brazil in Davis Cup. We played ITF Futures, ATP Challengers and then on the ATP Tour, so we know each other inside out.'
'We love to represent Brazil, but when you're out there as a team we have such chemistry between the players, and the coaches as well,' Melo added. 'We're happy to play Davis Cup together, especially as friends. For me it means so much to represent Brazil as a team. Fortunately, we're going to play in Brazil, and I'm so happy to be selected to play again to defend Brazil.
'I hope the crowds come in and watch and support us. Normally in they love to come watch Davis Cup - it's pretty much full every time we play, doesn't matter if you're in the top tier or a lower division. That's why we're looking forward to playing there.'
It may not be the spot in the Davis Cup Madrid Finals they were targeting at the start of the season, but the road to 2020 starts here for Brazil, who desperately want to be among the 18 teams in next year's competition.
'I'm a fan of the new Finals format,' Soares said. 'It's intense, and it's great to have everyone representing their countries in the same spot - I think the fans are going to love that. It's just too bad that Brazil is going to miss the first year, but we really want to be there next year.'