With 2006 cup run over, let’s look ahead to the 2007 Davis Cup draw which doesn’t disappoint, offering plenty of tasty first round matchups. Among the Feb 9 first round highlights, defending champion Russia travels to Chile; Croatia visits Germany; the U.S. will go to the Czech Republic; and, Federer and Nadal may square off as Switzerland journeys to Spain.
Here’s the complete 16-team field in draw order:
Russia at Chile
Romania at France
Germany at Croatia
Australia at Belgium
USA at Czech Republic
Switzerland at Spain
Sweden at Belarus
Argentina at Austria
Let’s start with my squad, the U.S., which faces a brutal draw. First traveling to the Czech Republic to battle Tomas Berdych and perhaps Mr. Hingis, Radek Stepanek – no easy task on the clay for Andy Roddick and James Blake – and then if they win they’d face either Roger Federer and his Swiss crew on their clay or battle Spain on grass here in the U.S.
I think the U.S. should get by the Czechs - though not easily as Berdych could very well sweep the singles – and then they’ll beat Spain at home on grass to reach the semifinals. Of course if Federer decides to post for D-Cup, then all bets are off, and the Swiss could run the table to the last four.
In the bottom section, Argentina’s looking real good to get through Austria to likely face Sweden, who take on Team Max. Argentina routed Sweden earlier this year at home, so the Swedes will have revenge on their mind in the rematch, this time on their home turf. And with a healthy Pim Pim and Jonas, Sodeling, ToJo, you have to like their chances on the ice rink next September.
In the top half, Russia v. Chile is probably the best match-up of the first round. Chile is simply never ever a good place to go play a Davis Cup match, unless of course you are Chilean. And even then it can be dangerous.
Chile will have its throngs of rabid supporters for Gonzo and Massu and maybe Rios, while Russia will have Davydenko and who knows who else at its disposal. With the first round just 10 days or so after the Australian Open, you have to think some of the Russian boys are not going to want to jet from Australia to Russia and then to Chile for what’s going to be a clay court ambush. That said, I don’t think Marat Safin gets on that plane, especially if he does well in Australia. Youzhy, Tursunov, Andreev, etc are good players, but I like Chile in the hostile environment. Plus, Russia just won so the motivation to win may not quite be all there.
France should blow out Romania, and I like Ljubicic, Ancic and Croatia to beat up on Germany, and Belgium to stun the Aussies. Australia is pretty thin with Hewitt and maybe Flip leading the charge, but against the Rochus bros. and Vliegen on the European clay, Belgium will be too tough to beat.
In the quarters, France will have to travel to Chile, a task just too tough for young Gasquet and co., while Croatia should roll the Belgians.
That means the semis as I see them (assuming Federer does not play), Chile v. Croatia (home soil to be determined by drawing I think) and the U.S. visits Sweden. Both tricky, but I think Crotia prevails regardless of surface/site and the U.S. slips past the Swedes in an indoor shootout. For the final, I’ll take Croatia earning their second D-Cup crown in three years defeating the U.S. 4-1 on the clay in Zagreb! Let’s check back in a year and see how I did.
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