The 35-year-old Marcelo Melo had won 17 out of 21 Davis Cup doubles rubbers for Brazil before the last weekend when he and Bruno Soares suffered a tough 6-4, 7-6 loss against the Belgian pair of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.
Three years ago, Melo and Soares lost a thrilling five-setter against the Belgians but this time they had the crowd to support them in Uberlandia, looking to defeat the crippled Belgian squad that competed without David Goffin, Ruben Bemelmans and Steve Darcis.
Despite that, the European team scored a 3-1 win to stun the Brazilians and book the place in Madrid in November when they will fight for the title. Kimmer Coppejans delivered two singles wins and together with this point from Gille and Vliegen it was enough to propel Belgium over the top against the rivals who were the favorites before the start of the tie.
In that doubles clash, Melo and Soares suffered a break only once although even that was enough for their less experienced rivals to cross the finish line, losing just seven points on serve in the entire encounter to topple the Brazilians and produce an essential win for their country that pushed them ahead.
Melo may suffer a defeat in this one but he left Uberlandia with an enormous honor, becoming only the eighth Brazilian player who received the Davis Cup Commitment Award, after Carlos Kirmayr, Jose-Edison Mandarino, Cassio Motta, Tomas Koch, Luiz Mattar, Jaime Oncins and Gustavo Kuerten.
Marcelo made a debut in the Brazilian team back in 2008 and he has been in the squad for 12 consecutive years, winning 18 of 23 rubbers while competing with Andre Sa, Bruno Soares and Marcelo Demoliner. After this defeat, Brazil will now compete in the Zone Group, hoping for another chance to play among the elite countries after a colossal chance they have wasted on Friday and Saturday.