2016 Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinals Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A busy week of tennis will expand with the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals, and ties in lower level groups starting tomorrow. Here is your preview with predictions for the final Davis Cup ties before the Olympic games in Rio.
World Group quarterfinals:
Serbia vs. Great Britain
Two recent Davis Cup champions will face off in Belgrade on clay. Serbia has a b-level squad that is anchored by the veteran presence of Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic, while Dusan Lajovic, and Filip Krajinovic, a pair of fringe ATP dirtballers round out their squad. Team GB is unlikely to get the services of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, although he’s on the squad. Andy’s brother Jamie, Kyle Edmund, and DC hero Dan Evans are on Leon’s Smith team though, as team GB looks to defend their DC title.
Zimonjic and Jamie Murray should cancel each other out as doubles specialists, on clay, Edmund is credible, Evans much less so, having not played on clay in two years, and Lajovic and Krajinovic both have a chance to win the three singles rubbers out of four needed to take the tie on their own. Tipsarevic is a shell of his former self after injuries, and Krajinovic hasn’t played in weeks however, thus team GB has a puncher’s chance, but they will need the doubles rubber. Unless Andy Murray plays, Serbia is the favorite.
Italy vs. Argentina
Home court advantage should be crucial for Italy as they try to win an evenly matched tie against Argentina on clay. Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi are leading the Italian team, with veteran Paolo Lorenzi and Marco Cecchinato also on the squad. Argentina counters with a newly rejuvenated Juan Martin Del Potro, veteran performer Juan Monaco, and younger dirtballers Guido Pella and Federico Delbonis.
This is a tough tie to predict, if Del Potro plays, and plays well, Argentina has a clear advantage. Regardless, Pella, Delbonis, and Monaco are all steady on clay, while Fognini, and Seppi are more erratic in form. Italy could win, but I’m going with the more consistent Argentina.
Czech Republic vs. France
On indoor hard in the Czech Republic, veteran Radek Stepanek leads a Czech squad that also features upward rising Jiri Vesely, big hitter Lukas Rosol, and the challenger level Adam Pavlasek. France counters with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the lead, the world class doubles pairing of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and rising young gun Lucas Pouille.
Despite playing at home, France has a clear advantage if Tsonga is fit and plays. Pouille may not win a match, but he’s capable of playing well, Mahut and Herbert are perhaps the best doubles team in the world, and the Czech’s don’t have Tomas Berdych to rely on for this tie. Only multiple upsets would prevent France from advancing.
USA vs. Croatia
The Pacific Northwest will get a taste of professional tennis on outdoor hard courts as Portland hosts the USA vs. Croatia. Jim Courier opted to go with his usual squad, skipping Wimbledon hero Sam Querrey, and the in-form Steve Johnson. John Isner leads the way, with Jack Sock as the #2 singles player, and the Bryan brothers for doubles. Croatia has most of their best players, with their #1 Marin Cilic leading the way, the young Borna Coric as his #2, and Ivan Dodig and Marin Draganja for doubles.
The Wimbledon quarterfinalist Cilic should prevail in both of his singles matches against Isner and Sock. Isner and Sock aren’t in great form, but will be happy to return to outdoor hard courts. Coric isn’t in great form himself, and I see him losing both singles rubbers, which means this match is likely decided on the Saturday doubles point. The Bryans are in decline, but still a tremendous pairing, and assuming they win, the USA will advance.
Action outside of the World Group
In Americas Group 1, Thomaz Bellucci’s Brazil are favorites against Ecuador and Santiago Giraldo’s Colombia should knock off Chile on the road. In Europe-Africa Group 1, Spain are heavy favorites on the road against Romania as they have ATP regulars Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta, and Feliciano Lopez on their squad. Romania has a great doubles team with Horia Tecau and Florin Mergea, but little else. Veteran former top ATP player Jurgen Melzer is playing for Austria in Ukraine, his team are underdogs against a team led by Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Russia vs. Netherlands should be a close tie in Moscow, young gun Andrey Rublev is playing for Russia, while the Netherlands have fringe ATP veterans Robin Haase and Thiemo De Bakker on their squad. In Europe-Africa Group 2, Jarkko Nieminen is unretiring to help Finland against Denmark.
Enjoy the weekend’s Davis Cup action!