Davis Cup World Group QFs Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The 2nd round of Davis Cup rubbers begins April 6th and here is a preview of the World Group quarterfinal matches to whet everyone’s appetite.
Austria vs. Spain
The top ranked Spanish host the Austrians on the red clay of Castellon, Spain. With a not quite top tier but still highly ranked squad of David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, they should be heavily favored against the Austrian squad that features only one top 100 player, Jurgen Melzer, who is joined by Austrian veterans Andreas Haider-Maurer, Alexander Peya and Oliver Marach, who will form part of the doubles team Austrian coach Clemens Trimmel will put up.
The Spanish singles duo of Ferrer and Almagro are both coming off deep runs on the hard courts of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami and should be in top form on what is their preferred surface while Marc Lopez, the brother of the more well known Feliciano Lopez, is a formidable doubles partner for whoever coach Alex Corretja pairs with him.
The Austrians upset the Russians in the last round and surprised many by reaching the Davis Cup QFs, but the odds of them advancing beyond this point on clay no less is are very steep with a squad of players who mostly ply their trade on the Challenger tour. The Spanish, who crushed Kazakhstan in the 1st round, should be favored to advance even if Melzer is able to win a couple rubbers for the boys in red.
The Pick: Spain
France vs. United States
The most anticipated Davis Cup tie of the quarterfinal round (at least here in the States) is this matchup between the traditionally strong French, who advanced over Canada in the 1st round and the newly resurgent US, who beat Roger Federer and the Swiss in the 1st round to the surprise of many. The tie will be played at the Monte Carlo Country Club, which also hosts the ATP Monte Carlo Masters tournament and once again will be on red clay, not exactly the Americans favorite surface even though they beat the Swiss on it.
The Americans, led by captain Jim Courier will send the team of John Isner, Ryan Harrison (who replaced Mardy Fish who withdrew from the tie) and the Bryan brothers, while for their part the French led by captain Guy Forget will send the squad of Gilles Simon (who replaced Gael Monfils who withdrew from the tie), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.
The French squad features two current top 15 singles players (Tsonga and Simon) while the Americans will have the advantage of both Bryan brothers being available for the doubles. Isner is pretty hot going into this tie, all be it on hard courts, and considering the parity of the talent it may just come down to which American and which French squad shows up. It should be a thrilling tie either way and how the less heralded play of Benneteau, Llodra and Harrison could determine who wins it. Simon is historically a better player on clay than Harrison is so that could swing the tie in favor of the French.
The Pick: France
Czech Republic vs. Serbia
In one of the closest ties in terms of both geographic location and parity of squads, the Czech Republic will face off with Serbia on clay in Prague. While the Serbs will once again be without the services of world no. 1 Novak Djokovic, they can still rely on ATP stalwarts Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki along with Dusan Lajovic and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonijic. The Czechs will counter with Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Lukas Rosol and doubles specialist Frantisek Cermak.
Both sides feature players who are playing very well at the moment and normally do well on clay so parsing these teams apart is very hard after both advanced with ease over Italy and Sweden respectively in the 1st round. It very well could come down to doubles rubber and how well the semi-consistent Lukas Rosol and Radek Stepanek can perform for the Czechs. Tipsarevic and Berdych also figure to be key performers for their perspective squads.
The Pick: Serbia
Croatia vs. Argentina
Argentina led by Juan Martin Del Potro, David Nalbanian, Juan “Pico” Monaco and Eduardo Schwank will try and defend home turf on the clay of Buenos Aires against the Croats who will counter with Ivo Karlovic, Marin Cilic, Antonio Veic and Lovro Zovko in what promises to be an interesting tie.
Argentina pulled off a mild upset of Phillip Kohlschreiber less Germany in the 1st round and Croatia triumphed over Kei Nishikori and Japan in a thrilling 5 rubber tie that went all the way.
With both Del Po and Pico coming off good performances in Miami including Del Potro’s victory over Cilic the Argentines should be favored over the Croats. Except a lot of aces in these rubbers even on clay with hard servers Karlovic, Cilic and Del Potro all taking part.
The Pick: Argentina
In other notable ties, Chile takes on Uruguay and Brazil takes on Colombia in Americas Group 1 2nd round action, India takes on Uzbekistan and Australia takes on South Korea in Asia/Oceania 2nd round action and Europe/Africa 2nd round ties are Israel vs. Portugal, Belgium vs. Great Britain, Netherlands vs. Romania and Slovenia vs. South Africa.