It’s the opening round of Davis Cup play! Sixteen teams will be in action in the World Group in eight high-stakes match-ups, and there will be lots of Zone Group fun as well. This post has everything you need to survive the weekend.
We’re starting with the story-lines that interest us, but scroll down to see a comprehensive list of the World Group ties–including starting times in EST. There’s some Zonal Group info included as well!
Storylines to Watch:
Amy: It should be interesting to see how Stan Wawrinka can perform against the defending champion Czech Republic team. It will be a pretty big uphill battle for Wawrinka against Tomas Berdych, because I’m not sure Henri Laaksonen is going to steal a point for Switzerland in the other singles matches. However, Berdych isn’t unbeatable if Wawrinka can conjure up the incredible shotmaking he employed against Novak Djokovic in Melbourne. I’ll also be on the lookout for any media reports of Wawrinka talking about the strained Fedwrinka relationship.
USA vs. Brazil will also be one to watch. John Isner has looked anything but good lately, and has had knee troubles on top of that. Sam Querrey is hardly a proven Davis Cup hero. The Bryan Brothers are the closest thing to a sure bet in doubles, but the less-than-convincing Isner and Querrey will need to bag two wins against Thomaz Bellucci and Thiago Alves. It’ll probably happen, but you never know.
Juan José: I can’t wait for the latest episode of the longest running soap opera in tennis (it’s been on for longer than Days of Our Lives, surely): Argentina’s quest to win Davis Cup! This season looks drenched in drama right from the start: the main character (Del Potro) opted out due to friction with the captain (Martín Jaite, Nalbandián’s former coach) and the Argentinean Tennis Federation, though the official discourse was that Del Potro preferred to focus on singles this year (how did that work in Australia, Juan Martín?). The old stalwart (Nalbandián) is back in the mix after not playing on tour since last August due to injuries, and is set to play … doubles!
Then you have some other storylines, like the fact that the Argentinean Tennis Federation is set to lose money on this tie. That can’t be a good thing. You also have Martín Jaite, who surely is in the hot seat after failing to get Del Potro into the team and is frantically trying to pretend like Argentina is a contender with a lineup that features soon-to-be 30-year-old Carlos Berlocq playing in just his second tie…ever. Let’s not forget that Germany comes in with a pretty solid team lead by Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer. The German tandem is especially dangerous if we consider that they love to play on clay, which is the de facto surface at the Parque Roca in Buenos Aires.
The ghost of Del Potro already seems to be permeating a lot of what is being said ahead of the tie: Nalbandián came out and said that playing Davis Cup is an “obligation,” given how much fans sacrifice during the year to follow them. Nice choice of words, there, David! Particulary since Del Potro chose to dodge this “obligation.” Jaite has also said that the team is not surrounded by “any ghosts”, which is like saying “you know that huge elephant that we all know is in this room? I don’t see it! It’s not there!”
Juan Mónaco has apparently been appointed the role of team leader, which is all very nice, and he’s saying all the right things. But there is one problem with that: “King David” Nalbandián will always have the loudest voice, even if he’s here in a diminished role.
Here are some more problems for Argentina: Berlocq opens against Kohlschreiber, a rubber in which the German is a huge favorite, given that he’s playing well at the moment (and is a better player than Carlos Berlocq, let’s be honest). Then Mónaco squares off against Florian Mayer…against whom he has a 1-5 head-to-head. More problematic: that lone win by the man from Tandil is from 2005. Given all of this, it’s not crazy to think that Germany might be up 2-0 by the end of Friday, and then Nalbandián and Leonardo Mayer will try to keep the tie going against the solid Kohlschreiber/Kas team on Saturday (incidentally, this German duo won Doha less than a month ago). Will David Nalbandián come to the rescue on Sunday, if Argentina is somehow still alive?
It will sure be a dramatic season opener for this long-running soap opera, and it seems like tragedy will strike early. It wouldn’t surprise me if a key protagonist (*cough* Jaite *cough*) isn’t a part of the cast anymore after this week’s events. Can Argentina escape the seemingly inevitable destiny of having to play the World Group playoffs at the end of the year? Seems like a tall order, but it will sure make for great … television?
Lindsay: I agree with both of my cohorts on everything. The Argentinian Drama should be a blast to follow, I’m excited to see how Quisner reacts to a home tie where they are the favorites, and Wawrinka-Berdych is probably the match-up I’m most excited about.
I’d also like to add that the Croatia-Italy tie should be a blast. Poor Marin Cilic- just a couple of weeks after getting unceremoniously thumped out of the Australian Open in five sets by Andreas Seppi, he has to travel to Italy and face Seppi and co. in front of a boisterous crowd. And his only back-up is Ivan Dodig. It will certainly be interesting to see how Cilic responds. Oh, and will the upstart Canadians actually be able to knock off the Davis Cup powerhouse of Spain? If they can’t take advantage of a home tie against Ramos and Granollers, they’re going to regret it for a long time
Quick Guide to the Weekend:
Canada vs. Spain (Vancouver, Canada)
Spain’s B-Team will get their time in the spotlight as they try and take out the Canadian team led by Milos Raonic. The last time these two teams met was in 1991, and Spain won that meeting.
Canada: Milos Raonic-15, Vasek Pospisil-131, Frank Dancevic-166, Daniel Nestor- 4 (doubles)
Spain: Marcel Granollers-34, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez-82, Albert Ramos-51, Marc Lopez- 3 (doubles)
1- Raonic vs. Ramos (Friday, 4:00PM EST)
2- Dancevic vs. Granollers
3- Nestor/Pospisil vs. Granollers/Lopez (Saturday, 4:00PM EST)
4- Raonic vs. Granollers (Sunday, 2:00 PM EST)
5- Dancevic vs. Ramos
Italy vs. Croatia (Turin, Italy)
It’s been fifteen years since Italy has been past the first round of World Group play, but with Seppi and Fognini playing the best tennis of their careers, they have a great shot to upset the Croats.
Italy: Andreas Seppi- 18, Fabio Fognini-44, Paolo Lorenzi-61, Simone Bolleli-80
Croatia: Marin Cilic- 13, Ivan Dodig-59, Nikola Mektic- 260, Mate Pavic-367
1-Fognini vs. Cilic- (Friday, 8:00 AM EST)
2-Seppi vs. Dodig
3-Bolelli/Lorenzi vs. Mektic/Pavic- (Saturday, 10:00 AM EST)
4-Seppi vs. Cilic- (Sunday 8:00 AM EST)
5-Fognini vs. Dodig
Belgium vs. Serbia (Charleroi, Belgium)
Fresh off of his Australian Open victory, Djokovic is in Belgium (on the sub-par courts) ready to lead his Serbian team to victory. Funny story though: Rochus actually has a positive h2h against the No. 1.
Belgium: David Goffin- 50, Steve Darcis-96, Ruben Bemelmans-119, Oliver Rochus-127
Serbia: Novak Djokovic- 1, Victor Troicki-39, Nenad Zimonjic- 22 (doubles), Boris Pashanski- 174
1- Goffin vs. Troicki (Friday, 8:00 AM EST)
2- Rochus vs. Djokovic
3-Bemelmans/Darcis vs. Troicki/Zimonjic (Saturday, 8:00 AM EST)
4-Goffin vs. Djokovic- (Sunday, 8:00 AM EST)
5-Rochus vs. Troicki
United States vs. Brazil (Jacksonville, Florida)
With Andy Roddick gone, this is officially a new era of US men’s tennis, and Querrey and Isner have a great opportunity to show their hometown crowd what they’re capable of against the underdog Brazilians.
USA: John Isner- 16, Sam Querrey- 20, Mike Bryan- 1 (doubles), Bob Bryan- 2 (doubles)
Brazil: Thomaz Bellucci-36, Thiago Alves-141, Marcelo Melo-16 (doubles), Bruno Soares- 19 (doubles)
1- Querrey vs. Bellucci (Friday, 2:00 PM EST)
2- Isner vs. Alves
3- Bryans vs. Melo/Soares (Saturday, 2:00 PM EST)
4- Isner vs. Bellucci (Sunday, 12:00 PM EST)
5- Querrey vs. Alves
France vs. Israel (Rouen, France)
Arnaud Clement’s captaincy begins at home against the heroic, inspiring, but ultimately overmatched Israelis. The French team is so deep that Australian Open quarterfinalist Jeremy Chardy is a practice squad player.
France- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga-6, Richard Gasquet-10, Julien Benneteau-38, Michael Llodra-65
Israel– Dudi Sela-106, Amir Weintraub-173, Jonathan Erlich- 48 (doubles), Noam Okun-1087
1-Tsonga vs. Weintraub- (Friday, 7:00 AM EST)
2- Gasquet vs. Sela
3- Benneteau/Llodra vs. Erlich/Sela- (Saturday, 8:00 AM EST)
4- Tsonga vs. Sela- (Sunday, 7:00 AM EST)
5- Gasquet vs. Weintraub
Argentina vs. Germany (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Will David Nalbandian ever get his chance at Davis Cup glory? This year could be his last shot, but without Del Potro the Argentinians have a tough first round brawl against the Kohlschreiber-led German squad.
Argentina– Juan Monaco-12, Horacio Zeballos-71, Carlos Berlocq-70, David Nalbandian-88
Germany – Philipp Kohlschreiber-19, Florian Mayer-28, Tobias Kamke-93, Christopher Kas- 69 (doubles)
1- Berlocq vs. Kohlschreiber- (Friday, 11:00 AM EST)
2- Monaco vs. Mayer
3- Nalbandian/Zeballos vs. Kas/Kohlschreiber- (Saturday, 1:00 PM EST)
4-Monaco vs. Kohlschreiber (Sunday, 11:00 AM EST)
5- Berlocq vs. Mayer
Kazhakstan vs. Austria (Astana, Kazhakstan)
The misfits in Kazhakstan always play well in front of their adopted home, but with Kukushkin still not 100% after hip surgery, they have an uphill battle against the Melzer-led Austrians.
Kazhakstan- Mikhail Kukushkin-155, Andrey Golubev-187, Evgeny Korolev-211, Yuri Schukin-471
Austria- Jurgen Melzer-30, Andreas Haider-Maurer-107, Alexander Peya-24, Julian Knowle-893
1- Golubev vs. Haider-Maurer- (Friday, 1:00AM EST)
2- Korolev vs. Melzer
3- Golubev/Schukin vs. Knowle-Peya- (Saturday, 3:00AM EST)
4- Golubev vs. Melzer (Sunday, 3:00AM EST)
5- Korolev vs. Haider-Maurer
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic (Geneva, Switzerland)
Henri Laaksonen is a new Davis Cup player for Switzerland, and he gets thrown into the fire against the defending Champions. Even with Stepanek out, it seems like Stanislas Wawrinka is going to have to do this by himself if he wants to advance.
Switzerland– Stanislas Wawrinka-17, Marco Chiudinelli-139, Michael Lammer-357, Henri Laaksonen-289
Czech Republic– Tomas Berdych-6, Lukas Rosol-73, Ivo Minar-192, Jiri Vesely-272
1- Wawrinka vs. Rosol- (Friday, 7:00 AM EST)
2- Laaksonen vs. Berdych
3- Chiudinelli/Wawrinka vs. Minar/Vesely- (Saturday, 7:30 AM EST)
4- Wawrinka vs. Berdych- (Sunday, 6:30 AM EST)
5- Laaksonen vs. Rosol
Zonal Group 1 Ties
Uruguay vs. Dominican Republic
Uruguay; Friday 3:00 PM EST
Chinese Taipei vs. Australia (Matosevic, Hewitt, Ebden, Guccione)
Chinese Taipei; Thursday 10:00 PM EST
Uzbekhistan (Denis Istomin) vs. China, P.R.
Uzbekhistan; Friday 12:00 AM EST
India (Leander Paes) vs. Korea, Rep.
Delhi, India; Friday 1:30 AM EST
Japan (Soeda, Ito) vs. Indonesia
Tokyo, Japan; Thursday 11:00 PM EST
Poland (Janowicz, Kubot, Matkowski, Fyrstenberg) vs. Slovenia (Kavcic, Zemlja)
Poland; Friday 10:00 AM EST
Romania (Ungur, Tecau) vs. Denmark (Nielsen)
Romania; Friday 6:00 AM EST
Ukraine (Dolgopolov, Stakhovsky) vs. Slovak Republic (Lacko)
Ukraine; Friday 7:00 AM EST