Brazil’s Souza: I was target of racist fans during Davis Cup match in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina won the decisive singles match against Brazil on Monday to close out a dramatic Davis Cup encounter marred by reports of racist taunts by spectators during the longest singles match ever played in the competition.
Brazil’s Joao Souza told the Brazilian website SporTV.com that he heard fans call him a monkey during his reverse singles match against Leonardo Mayer on Sunday. Mayer won it after 6 hours, 42 minutes to level the best-of-five-match series at 2-all.
"I wanted to go to the umpire, but I would be jeered even more; it would only make it worse. We know it’s tough to play away from home, but racism is a bit too much," Souza told the website.
Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci also complained about abuse from the fans during his decisive singles match against Federico Delbonis on Monday. Delbonis won 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to clinch the victory for Argentina, which earned a spot in the Davis Cup quarterfinals. The match had been suspended because of darkness on Sunday with Delbonis up a set.
"It was the toughest day to play," Bellucci told SporTV.com. "There was a lot of noise, a lot of people talking to me when I was serving. They were cursing at me every time I went for the towel. We knew it was going to be like this; we knew we were not going to be treated as lords."
The Brazilian team, upset at how the players were treated during the matches, skipped the post-match news conference on Monday.
After squandering 10 match points, Mayer finally broke Souza’s serve to close out Sunday’s match 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13. The previous longest singles Davis Cup match had been John McEnroe’s win over Mats Wilander in 1982, which lasted 6 hours, 22 minutes.
Delbonis said he was inspired by Mayer’s performance to come back after dropping the second set against Bellucci on Monday.
"After what Leo did yesterday, I had to play with heart, and that’s what I did," he said.
Argentina will next play Serbia in the quarterfinals. The Argentines had reached at least the semifinals of the World Group from 2010-13. They were upset in the first round by Italy last year.
Argentina is still seeking its first Davis Cup title. It was runner-up four times: 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.