Giving tennis more than a shot

Davis Cup – Bring On The Clay! (2)

Yesterday, I started my World Group preview for the Davis Cup quarter-finals with the tie opposing Spain and Austria, and that between France and the United States. Before hopping to the draws and schedule for the weekend, I will preview the last two ties, Argentina vs Croatia, and Czech Republic vs Serbia.


The order of the previews was not without reason, as the winners of the ties I previewed yesterday will face in semi-finals. It’s obviously the same for the ties I am previewing today.


Argentina vs Croatia

Location: Parque Roca, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Argentina Croatia
Juan Martín del Potro Marin Cilic
David Nalbandian Ivo Karlovic
Juan Mónaco Antonio Veic
Eduardo Schwank Lovro Zovko


From a completely fan point of view, this is the tie I will follow the closest, as it is the one involving not only most of my favourite players, but also my favourite tennis country. From a completely detached point of view, this is also one that promises to be highly interesting, as it opposes players with great style disparities, at least in the first two singles rubbers.


As Argentina is assured to play at home for the rest of the year if they win each of the ties, it was again elected that at least this tie would take place in Parque Roca, where they had great success last year.


This time, contrary of the tie in Germany, Martín Jaite had made no mystery from the start as to who would play what and when: Juan Martín del Potro and David Nalbandian would play Friday’s singles and Nalbandian will team up once again with Eduardo Schwank for the doubles rubber. 


Jaite was also very clear that no player would take part in more than two rubbers, and so if a fifth rubber was necessary, the one to play it would be Juan Mónaco, who had a great start of the season and, like in Bamberg where he came after winning the title in Vi]na del Mar, Pico comes from a great run on the North American hard courts.


On Croatia’s side, the singles will be played by Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic, and even though both are better on hard courts, it’s also the case for the Argentine singlists. However, the Argentines have head-to-head as well as court advantage in the meeting with either player, Nalbandian being 4-0 against Cilic and del Potro, 2-1 against Karlovic. I don’t think it will be any different tomorrow, even though the rubber between Karlovic and del Potro should be quite tight.


As for the doubles, Zeljko Krajan decided to opt for Cilic and Lovro Zovko to face Nalbandian and Schwank. Here again, I think that Argentina should come out on top.


If Argentina doesn’t close the tie in the first three rubbers, the reverse singles will be crucial, especially the fourth one, as we know that the meetings between del Potro and Cilic are usually very tight and difficult affairs, although the Argentine had the edge in their only clay court meeting, last year in Madrid.


My prediction: Argentina 4, Croatia 1


Czech Republic vs Serbia

Location: O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic


Czech Republic Serbia
Tomas Berdych Janko Tipsarevic
Radek Stepanek Viktor Troicki
Lukas Rosol Ilja Bozoljac
Frantisek Cermak Nenad Zimonjic


It’s without World no 1 Novak Djokovic that Serbia goes to visit the Czech Republic in Prague for this quarter-final meeting. Nevertheless, despite both Czech singles players being slightly better ranked than their opponents, it’s the visiting team that comes with the edge in this tie, especially since Janko Tipsarevic has had a pretty good hard court swing and is at a new career high of no 8.


However, if something can be said about the Czech team, it’s that it is a very unpredictable team. We know what both Tomas Berdych and veteran Radek Stepanek are capable of the best and the worst, sometimes even in the same match. As far as Berdych is concerned, he will play his first match against slumping Viktor Troicki, who is, at the moment, even more unpredictable than he is, which makes for a quite open match which, I think, the local player should take.


The second singles match should also be the affair of the better ranked player, in this case Tipsarevic. Despite likely being brimming with confidence after his recent doubles success, and being the home player, I don’t think Stepanek will be able to overcome Tipsarevic this time. Although Stepanek is a very dangerous Davis Cup player for any opponent, this match should be a Serbian win.


Saturday’s doubles should also go on Serbia’s side, especially if Jaroslav Navratil keeps his doubles team as it is (Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Rosol). However, something tells me that if his singles rubber is not overly long, the Czech captain might substitute Cermak for Stepanek in order to give a better chance to his team in view of the reverse singles, especially if the tie is at 1-1. Serbia will go, again, with Nenad Zimonjic and Ilja Bozoljac, unless Bogdan Obradovic substitutes Bozoljac for this rubber.


No matter the doubles result, if the tie is at 2-1 upon entering the reverse singles, the fourth rubber, opposing Berdych to Tipsarevic, will be determining for the tie. We know that, under pressure, it happens very often that Tipsarevic comes to make many wrong decisions and that Berdych is still his unpredictable self. A fifth rubber is not to be excluded in this tie.


My prediction: Czech Republic 2, Serbia 3


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