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By Chris Oddo

Fabio Fognini (February 4, 2013) -- Davis Cup has the ability to inspire a patriotic fervor in players who have otherwise been lulled to sleep by the entrepreneurial enticements of life on the tour, and last weekend was no exception. Unsung and underappreciated, heroes emerged like flowers from cracks in the pavement, blooming right in front of our very eyes.

Here's the best and brightest of what we saw this weekend:

Hero: Andrey Golubev and Kazakhstan

What is it about Golubev and Davis Cup? "It's not about the rankings, It's only about playing for your country," the Kazakh, a former World No. 33 who is currently languishing at 165, said after defeating Jurgen Melzer to secure a place for Kazakhstan in the World Group quarterfinals on Sunday.

Wins have been very hard to come by for the talented 25-year-old, but he's had a few in his career, perhaps none bigger than his upset of Tomas Berdych in 2011, when the Kazakhs famously upset the Czech Republic in their first ever World Group appearance.

Now if only Golubev can pretend every match is a Davis Cup match when he steps on the court, he may begin to rebuild his ranking...

Zero: Lukas Lacko

The disgruntled Slovakian took to Twitter to call out Martin Klizan for not playing in Slovakia's Davis Cup tie against the Ukraine over the weekend. As entertaining as it was for us gossip-starved fools on Twitter, there has to be a better way for Lacko to reach out to a person that he calls "a good friend."

Hero: Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares

Just when it looked like the USA was going to close out the Brazilians on Saturday with ease, Melo and Soares upped their game to defeat the world's best doubles team in five sets in Jacksonville. In staving off elimination, the Brazilian duo become only the third team to defeat the Bryans in Davis Cup play, and the first since 2008.

Zero: John Isner

Isner had the chance to close out Brazil on Sunday with a win over Thomaz Belluci at home, on a fast, American-style hardcourt, but he couldn't get it done. Worse, Isner took issue with Brazilian fans at the Jacksonville tie who were noisy between points, reportedly saying saying "To be honest, I don't appreciate their fans at all. I don't think they're too classy at all."

Some things are simply better left unsaid, John. Or at least put more tactfully.

Hero: Fabio Fognini and Corrado Barazzutti

Kudos to Fabio Fognini for winning a decisive fifth rubber to give Italy its first World Group Davis Cup win since 1998, and more kudos to Italy's Captain, Corrado Barazzutti, for having the wherewithal to rest Fognini on Friday, so that he could be fresh on Sunday to take out Ivan Dodig in Turin.

Zero: The Tennis Gods

For being so rough on Stan Wawrinka. Wawrinka and his partner Marco Chiudinelli lost the longest match in Davis Cup history on Saturday, when they fell to Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3), 24-22 in seven hours and two minutes.

Not only has Wawrinka been shouldered with the burden of leading the Swiss team against the defending champions in Geneva while Roger Federer is off gallivanting, he was also forced to deal with a monster of a player in Berdych again on Sunday (he lost in four tough sets)...

Speaking of Berdych...



Hero: Tomas Berdych

Has anyone noticed that Tomas Berdych owns a 17-1 record in Davis Cup doubles? That is mighty impressive, considering that an elite player like Berdych could easily demure with regard to doubles when it comes to Davis Cup. In a day and age when most top players pick and choose the ties they play based on how they feel and what tour events they want to be extra fresh for, Berdych seems to be happy putting it all on the line for his native Czech Republic. He's gone 13-1 in Davis Cup play since the beginning of 2012, and reached his 40th career Davis Cup victory with his epic doubles win on Saturday.

Hero: Christian Harrison

18-year-old Christian Harrison--Ryan's little brother--won his first professional singles title this weekend when he took the Men's Futures event in Sheffield, England. It was his second consecutive final.

Hero: Maria Kirilenko

The Russian won her sixth career title, and first since 2008, when she took the PTT Pattaya Open with a three-set win over Sabine Lisicki in the final.

Hero: Canada

Oh, Canada! The Canadians won their first World Group tie against Spain and will host Italy in the quarterfinals in April. It wasn't the Spain side we've seen in recent years, as Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro, Feliciano Lopez, and Fernando Verdasco were all nowhere to be found, but nevertheless, a World Group win is a World Group win.

Hero: Mona Barthel

The German became one of just four unseeded champions in Open GDF Suez history, and she notched her second and third top ten wins en route to her second WTA title.

Zero: Jurgen Melzer

0-2 vs. two players outside of the top 100 in Austria's loss to Kazakhstan.

Hero: Kristina Mladenovic

The 19-year-old jumped to a career-high ranking of No. 69 by reaching the Open GDF Suez semifinal last week.


(Photo Credit: Daviscup.com)

 

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