An unwritten rule in Davis Cup competition is you don’t want to travel to Chile. Unfortunately that’s what’s ahead for Team USA. Just days after an impressive victory over Colombia, with the release of the 2011 Davis Cup draw the US has learned that it must travel back down to South America and face Chile in the World Group first round.
Luckily for the American bunch, Chile is no longer the fearsome tennis threat it once was. Fernando Gonzalez has a questionable knee that could keep him out of the tie, and does Nicolas Massu even play anymore?
Still, winning in Chile is not going to be easy especially for the new incoming US Davis Cup coach, sure to be Jim Courier, who’ll have to court veterans Andy Roddick and the Bryans into playing on Red Clay thousands of miles away just days before the important Indian Wells/Miami hardcourt swing.
I’ll say right now I don’t think Roddick will make that trip.
The US, however, has beaten Chile in all four meetings including in 2006 in the US and 1978 in Chile.
If the US does win – and right now I make them favorites – they will potentially host Rafael Nadal and Spain just after Wimbledon. The Spaniards open on the road against Belgium.
Another interesting first rounder is Germany playing at Croatia. Robin Soderling’s Swedish team also visits Russia. The rest of the ties appear to be fairly one-sided as of now.
Top seed Serbia hosts India, Argentina is home to Romania, Kazakhstan travels to the Czech Republic and Austria welcomes France.
France still has unfinished business this year as they head to Serbia for the Davis Cup title this December.
Looking ahead, the Davis Cup is player-driven and sometimes location-driven. If you can get your star players to show up and you host the tie, usually you are in a good position.
That said, if Juan Martin Del Potro returns to full strength you have to like Argentina who will host the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals and then also host (I think) Serbia in the semi’s.
In the bottom half if Nadal plays then Spain’s team to beat. At home and with Rafa Spain should get through France in the post-US Open semifinals before Team Argentina rolls into town for the title match. And what a final that would be! DelPo/Nalbandian vs. Nadal! Of course we are a long, long way from that, but it’s fun to speculate.
Here’s the 2011 Davis Cup draw:
India at (1) Serbia (c)
(7) Russia at Sweden (c)
Kazakhstan at (3) Czech Rep (c)
Romania at (5) Argentina (c)
(6) USA at Chile (c)
(4) Spain at Belgium (c)
Germany at (8) Croatia (c)
France at Austria (c)
Davis Cup World Group first round begins on March 4, 2011. The quarterfinals commence on July 8.
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