All You Need to Know: Davis Cup Preview

Written By: achangeofends - Mar• 04•11

Tennis fans aren’t like regular sports fans. If you’re a baseball fan, you root for your local team, regardless of who plays for them. If your favorite player gets traded, you find a new favorite player. It’s all about the city and all about the team. Because tennis is an individual sport, fans root for style and personality, not geography. Plenty of Americans favor Rafael Nadal over Andy Roddick and Roger Federer would be far more recognizable to the average American sports fan than Mardy Fish. However, four times a year, tennis gives us a team sport to cheer on. Davis Cup lacks the intensity of Wimbledon or the US Open, but it’s ten times the fun. Here’s a look at this weekend’s first round ties.

Serbia v. India

Serbia: Troicki, Tipsarevic, Bozoljac, Zimonjic

India: Devvarman, Rastogi, Bhambri, Bopanna

Venue: Spens Sports Center, Novi Sad, Serbia

Prediction: Serbia 5-0

I think we all know how this is going to end. Serbia may be missing their best player since Novak Djokovic is sitting out the tie, but the truth is they don’t need him for this. The defending champions just have an all around better squad. Troicki and Tipsarevic may not be the most consistent players on tour in general, but they seem to play well under the pressure of playing for their country. Remember Troicki’s heroic win over Mika in the final rubber of the championship? While Troicki and Tipsarevic may find ways to lose in Grand Slams, even on a bad day I think they have the goods to make it past the likes of Devvarman and Bopanna. Serbia will clinch this tie 5-0. If India has a chance at winning a rubber, it will be the doubles. Bopanna is a great doubles player, but my money’s still on Zimonjic to clench the tie for Serbia.

Sweden’s Robin Soderling and Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov (R) pose after the draw ceremony for the Davis Cup first round match between Sweden and Russia in Boras, March 3, 2011. Soderling and Tursunov will play the first singles game on Friday. REUTERS/SCANPIX/Adam Ihse (SWEDEN – Tags: SPORT TENNIS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN

Sweden v. Russia

Sweden: Soderling, Johansson, Aspelin, Lindstedt

Russia: Gabashvili, Andreev, Kunitsyn, Tursunov

Venue: Borashallen, Boras, Sweden

Prediction: Sweden 3-2

Whatever happened to the days when Russia had an allstar team? Now three of their guys are hovering around the 100 mark. This is a close one, and I can’t say that I agree with Shamil Tarpischev’s decision to play Gabashvili and Andreev in singles. Tursunov may be the lowest ranked player on the Russian team, but that’s because he’s working his way back from injury. As late as October, Dima was ranked in the 400s, and he’s worked his way back to No. 105. He was also once ranked in the Top 20 and part of the 2006 Championship Davis Cup Team. He’s got the experience and I think if the tie goes to a fourth or fifth rubber, which it probably will, Dima should be tapped for reverse singles. The tie itself pretty much lies on the racket of Robin Soderling. He’ll have to win both of his rubbers to win the tie because I have zero faith in Joachim Johansson winning anything even against these guys. He’s ranked in the 700s. However, Soderling can’t win this thing alone. Sweden will have to take the doubles rubber, which I think they can do with Aspelin and Lindstedt who are both extremely accomplished doubles players. In other words, whoever wins the doubles will win this tie.

Czech Republic v. Kazakhstan

Czech Republic: Berdych, Hajek, Vesely, Dlouhy

Kazakhstan: Golubev, Kukushkin, Schukin, Korolev

Venue: CEZ Arena, Ostrava, Czech Republic

Prediction: Czech Republic 3-2

Both teams pretty much have one good guy and one mediocre guy for singles. But, what it comes down to is whether one teams good guy is better than the other’s and in this case Tomas Berdych is better than Andrey Golubev. Golubev will likely beat Hajek in the first rubber, but Tomas will likely win both of his. I’m banking on the Czech Republic to take the doubles rubber an ride the hometown advantage.

Argentina v. Romania

Argentina: Nalbandian, Monaco, Chela, Schwank

Romania: Hanescu, Crivoi, Ungur, Tecau

Venue: Parque Roca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Prediction: Argentina 4-1

Being able to play a home tie is a huge advantage for the Argentinians, who thrive on outdoor clay. Plus, they’ve got a pretty good team, considering they’re missing Juan Martin del Potro. The big kicker: David Nalbandian loves Davis Cup! This guy is obsessed with winning the title and I’m pretty sure that he will take down both Ungur and Hanescu pretty easily. That means that Argentina has to win just one more rubber to make it to the quarterfinals and Juan Monaco should be able to do the job against Ungur or even Hanescu. I do think Romania has a slight advantage in doubles, but I would not be shocked by an Argentinian sweep.

U.S. Davis Cup player Andy Roddick (L) and team captain Jim Courier (R) attend a news conference ahead of their match against Chile in Santiago city March 1, 2011. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado (CHILE – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Chile v. USA

Chile: Capdeville, Aguilar, Massu, Rivera-Aranguiz

USA: Roddick, Isner, Bryan, Bryan

Venue: Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile

Prediction: 4-1

I wrote about this just a few days ago, so feel free to check out the in depth analysis. The state of US tennis is worse than I thought if we somehow manage to lose this. Andy Roddick’s Top 10 and the Bryans are the best doubles has to offer. Just on their own these three guys should be able to capture the tie, but John Isner’s not exactly shabby. He’s been in a bit of a slump lately, but I think he’ll almost certainly pull through against Capdeville. Chile’s got a motley crew of nobodies and has beens and their only real advantage is the fact that they’re playing at home, on clay, which granted is a pretty big advantage when it comes to the US. Andy and John aren’t exactly known for being clay court specialists. However, considering the competition, I think we can handle it.

Belgium v. Spain

Belgium: Malisse, Rochus, Darcis, Bemelmans

Spain: Nadal, Ferrer, Verdasco, Lopez

Venue: Spiroudome, Charleroi, Belgium

Prediction: Spain 5-0

This is hilarious. Spain has the dream team. What more could you wish for than the world No. 1 and two more Top 10 players for back up, not to mention a very solid player in Feliciano Lopez. Spain should have absolutely no trouble rolling through the Belgians even on home turf. Rafa’s whole modesty act may make the tie sound tough, but even he has to realize that only catastrophe could prevent Spain from moving on to the quarterfinals. Indoor hard courts play to the Belgians advantage and a bit to the Spaniards disadvantage, but in reality the superior quality of the Spanish players should outweigh the surface.

Croatia’s Davis Cup team (L-R) captain Goran Prpic and players Antonio Veic, Ivan Dodig, Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic pose after the official draw in Zagreb March 3, 2011. Croatia will face Germany in their Davis Cup World Group first round match from Friday until Sunday. REUTERS/Nikola Solic (CROATIA – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Croatia v. Germany

Croatia: Cilic, Dodig, Karlovic, Veic

Germany: Kohlschreiber, Mayer, Petzschner, Kas

Venue: Dom Sportova, Zagreb, Crotia

Prediction: Croatia 3-2

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what’s going to happen with this one. The indoor hard courts play well for both teams, but the Croatian home advantage should help them out. Croatian fans are rowdy and love to cheer on their team, so expect a big turn out. I think Cilic will take both his matches, Kohlschreiber will likely beat Dodig, and Germany has the advantage in doubles. So, I think it will all come down to the fifth rubber, Dodig v. Mayer. Numbers wise, Mayer is the safe bet, but Dodig’s been on kind of a hot streak lately so I’m going with him.

Austria v. France

Austria: Melzer, Fischer, Koubek, Marach

France: Benneteau, Llodra, Simon, Chardy

Venue: Vienna Airport Hangar 3, Vienna, Austria

Prediction: France 3-2

This has to be one of the most interesting ties of the weekend. It’s being played in a converted airport hangar and the French team is in all kinds of turmoil. Last year’s runners up are missing their top two players and Gilles Simon spoke out against coach Guy Forget’s decision to pull him from the final rubber in last year’s Championship. I think I’ve changed my prediction on this twenty times already. I’m pretty sure the tie will end up being 3-2 and I think it’s going to hinge on the doubles. The only problem is that both teams have excellent doubles duos. Melzer won Wimbledon doubles last year and Marach is a solid player as well. Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau are an established team who have played together many times and won numerous titles. In my opinion, Melzer will win both his singles matches. I have little faith in Jeremy Chardy and Gilles Simon’s Davis Cup record isn’t stellar, plus Jurgen Melzer is pretty awesome right now. Koubek is a streaky player and I think Simon will probably beat him. If the fifth rubber is still live, I honestly don’t know who will win. It’s a pretty tough call between Chardy and Koubek. I suppose Forget could always sub in Llodra for a singles rubber because I honestly believe he’s a better bet than Chardy, although he may still be a bit torn up from his defeat in Serbia.

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