It’s time to talk some Davis Cup again. The first of four rounds of this 2010 Davis Cup tennis calendar begins tomorrow with eight ties in total on tap. So with that, here are some thoughts and predictions for the weekend and the remainder of the year.
Without Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the Spain-Switzerland tie has lost a lot of zing. But even had the top stars played I think on clay the outcome would still have been the same with the Spaniards winning at home on their favorite dirt.
USA-Serbia also had some extra flavor to it until both Andy Roddick and James Blake decided to pass on the Davis Cup for 2010. On the clay, Serbia with Novak Djokovic gets the edge but the U.S. will still be a tough out. When you have two monsters like Big John Isner and Sam Querrey blasting serves anything can happen irrespective of surface.
So I expect tight sets the whole weekend and if Isner can crack Victor Troicki in the opener tomorrow that would put Novak under serious pressure to beat Sam, otherwise the Bryans could seal the upset win on Saturday. And we know Novak can get real shaky when the heat is on. But I still like Serbia to pull through. Novak can’t afford losing to USA’s “B” team at home.
Argentina is also hurting against Sweden. Juan Martin Del Potro is out with a wrist and David Nalbandian has a bad something or other. All that spells trouble against the home favorite Swedes who are led by Robin Soderling and the return of Pim Pim, Joachim Johansson. On the fast court, indoors, I’ll take the Sweden.
Also, France is at home against the Germans. With JW Tsonga and Gael Monfils they should win out over the Tommy Haas-less Germans. I like Russia over India, Croatia at home over Ecuador, Czech Republic to beat the homestanding Belgians and in the sentimental showdown, I think Chile rallies for the country to beat Israel in a tie that begins a day late on Saturday because of the earthquake.
So for the quarterfinals in July, I see Spain at France, Russia at Sweden, Croatia v. Serbia and Czech Republic at Chile. What a great bunch of matchups if they do come to pass. And at this moment each one is incredible difficult to call! But, I think Nadal is healthy again in the summer and the French get a little nervous so I’m going to pick Spain. I’ll take a deeper Russian team over Sweden and the Czechs get the job done over Chile.
Since Croatia and Serbia have never met in Davis Cup, I believe it’s a coin flip to decide where that tie is played. The matchups are pretty even so it comes down to nerves and I think Novak is more likely to feel the pressure than Marin Cilic. Therefore I’ll take the Croats.
In the semifinals in September, I’ve now got Spain at Russia, Croatia at Czech Republic. With Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youhzny playing indoors on a fast court I think that’s too much for Spain and Nadal to overcome. Plus, Nadal’s body may be already breaking down again at that point. In the other semifinal, in the big moments Berdych just doesn’t impress me much so somehow I think Croatia wins that one with Cilic and Dr. Ivo and not much of a doubles team.
That leaves my final as Croatia at Russia in a pretty even match up. The edge goes to the home Russians and I like them to finish on top with Davydenko, who like he did in 2009, coming strong again at the end of the year.
Of course a lot does depend on injuries, but based on matchups Russia would be home in three of four matches, which is a huge edge. If Nadal can return to 100% he and Verdasco could very well run the table, especially if Davydenko is ailing in September.
Serbia with Djokovic really have a great chance. I’m just not sold on Novak being mentally and physically able to shoulder the load in the later rounds.
And if Argentina can somehow scrap through Sweden they could easily become a force should Del Potro and Nalbandian be healthy. But then again, once thing we’ve learned already two months into the new season is that healthy players are in short supply.
Let the games begin!
For those in the U.S., Serbia and USA will live on the Tennis Channel TV at 10am Eastern.
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