Rafael Nadal will open Spain’s defense of their 2008 Davis Cup title when the finals begin Friday in Barcelona. Nadal’s foe from the Czech Republic will be Tomas Berdych. ADHEREL
“Everybody talk about hard week last week,” Nadal said. “But (it) wasn’t a big surprise. I didn’t arrive with the best confidence… on difficult surface, against the best players of the world. So here I practiced hard and well during all the week. I am happy to be here and be part of this very good team. We practiced all the time… trying our best in every practice. And I think and I hope to be ready for tomorrow.”
Nadal leads the head-to-head 5-3 with four consecutive straight set wins (nine sets total) over the big-hitting birdman the last three years. But I give Berdych a shot to at least steal a set.
Nadal comes into the tie riding a four-match losing skid, his worst since he came into prominence. And even though the match in his backyard and on the clay (indoors), he has to be feeling a little uneasy given his play the last month.
And I think Berdych and rest of the Czech team can play pretty loose knowing few give them a chance this weekend. So Tomas should be hitting bombs and swinging freely.
In the second match Spanish coach Alberto Costa has chosen David Ferrer over Fernando Verdasco to face Radek Stepanek. I know Verdasco also been struggling like Nadal but I think he deserves the spot over Ferrer here. Verdasco’s had a great year – remember he won it for Spain last year! – and even though he zeroed at the WTFs last week he competed well and based on his season and his level of play, I think he should on that court tomorrow, not David.
“Fernando is fit and he has an important role to play in the doubles and possibly Sunday,” Costa said. “But David has prepared really well and he deserves to play.”
But Ferrer should still be able to get the job done against The Worm. And if he does a rested Verdasco and his buddy Feliciano Lopez could clinch it for the Spaniards on Saturday in the doubles against Lukus Dlouhy and Jan Hajek, though watch for Berdych-Stepanek to fill in if needed.
If the tie is still alive – which I think it won’t – the Sunday reverse singles set up with Nadal v. Stepanek followed by Ferrer and Berdych.
The favorite Spaniards have won three Davis Cups, all this decade in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Spain’s also won 19 straight clay ties since a 1999 loss to Brazil, and they’ve won 17 straight at home. The odds don’t look good for team Czech which, led by Ivan Lendl, won their lone DC in 1980.
Matches will be televised live in the US on Tennis Channel at 10am ET. Live online streaming is available via the ITF:
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