Davis Cup World Group — First Round 2012
Some marquee match-ups this coming weekend feature Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka defending their home clay turf against the U.S., and Argentina going into Germany (on red clay?).
Here is the full line-up of World Group first-round meetings: Kazakhstan at Spain in Oviedo; Russia at Austria in Wiener Neustadt; France at Canada in Vancouver; U.S. at Switzerland in Fribourg; Italy at Czech Republic in Ostrava; Sweden at Serbia in Nis; Croatia at Japan in Hyogo; and Argentin at Germany in Bamberg.
Spain d. Kazakhstan — Not your typical superstar Spanish line-up, but Nicolas Almagro leading will be enough to get the defending world champs Spain past the underpowered Kazakhs on their home red clay.
Russia d. Austria — Jurgen Melzer has no backup within the Top 100, and Russia is too experienced with the likes of American-turned-Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr., Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny and crew.
France d. Canada — One of the best ties of the weekend as France fronts Top 20 players Gael “Force” Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in singles, and Canada Milos “Big Babyface” Raonic. Each team also boasts a hall of fame doubles standout — France’s Micheal Llodra, and Canada’s Daniel Nestor. In the end the fragile Raonic is not up to carrying an entire team, and France is too deep. But this could be a great tie if the home Canadian fans can rally their troops.
Switzerland d. U.S. — The key to this tie is the red clay, American Kryptonite, as it’s Mardy Fish’s worst surface, but U.S. Captain Jim Courier will feel the pressure to play him as the highest-ranked player. John Isner can serve through the slow dirt, but the lack of two Bryan brothers is also a strike against the U.S. The Olympic doubles gold winners Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka have too many factors in their favor, and it could easily be a 3-0 sweep.
Czechs d. Italy — Quick, can you name anyone on the Italian Davis Cup team? Exactly. No players in the Top 25 is too tough for a squad travelling to the Czech Republic to meet Tomas Berdych and Radek “The Worm” Stepanek. Break out the broom, 3-0 sweep.
Serbia d. Sweden — The lack of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic might be a blow for the Serbs…until you realize that Sweden, without the injured Robin Soderling, can’t bring a singles player to the table with a Top 300 ranking. Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki will be enough to clean-up this Swedish mess.
Croatia d. Japan — This is going to be one competitive tie as neither team brings overwhelming force. Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda will try and protect the home turf against the visiting “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig. This is a coin flip, but the Japanese team will be under tremendous pressure at the Bourbon Beans Dome (not making that up) in Hyogo, while the Croats bring a little more experience.
Argentina d. Germany — Really Germany, indoor red clay to host Argentina? Really? David Nalbandian and Juan Monaco and Juan Ignacio Chela say thank you very much as they stroll into Bamberg. Germany’s other big news is that former world No. 2 Tommy Haas has made himself available, despite his ranking outside the Top 150. Germany will also bring out some combination of Florian Mayer, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philipp Petzschner, but the red clay experiment against a claycourt nation will be a bust.
20e Open GDF Suez; Paris, France; Surface: indoor hard
Seeds: Maria Sharapova, Marion Bartoli, Li Na, Jelena Jankovic, Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges, Roberta Vinci, Anabel Medina Garrigues
Floaters: Lucie Safarova, Yanina Wickmayer, Kaia Kanepi, Christina McHale, Shahar Peer
Notes: 20th edition of the tournament; former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo is the tournament director; tough openers include (5) Lisicki vs. Safarova, (4) Jankovic vs. Wickmayer (winner to face Kanepi-McHale winner), and (6) Goerges vs. Peer; wildcards went to France’s Alize Cornet and Pauline Parmentier; defending champ Petra Kvitova takes a pass, leaving no returning champions in the field; Mauresmo reached the final five times winning twice, and Martina Navratoliva (1993-94) is the only player to win back-to-back championships.
PTT Pattaya Open; Pattaya City, Thailand; Surface: hard
Seeds: Vera Zvonareva, Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova, Maria Kirilenko, Zheng Jie, Galina Voskoboeva, Sorana C�rstea, Vania King
Floaters: Heather Watson, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Sania Mirza
Notes: Seed quality starts solid with Top 10er Zvonareva but then falls off the table; up-and-coming Brits Laura Robson and Watson in the draw, the latter opening against (8) King; former champs in the field are Hantuchova (2011) and Zvonareva (2010-09); Hantuchova beat Sara Errani in last year’s final.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
WOZ’S DAD CANS HER COACH — Caroline Wozniacki dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 when the new WTA Rankings came out after the Australian Open where she lost in the quarterfinals. Wozniacki then canned her coach of only two months, Spain’s Ricardo Sanchez. Wozniacki’s father, Piotr, announced the split saying it wasn’t a good fit, while Sanchez said he couldn’t coach the former No. 1 because dad was always up in his business. “I have great respect for Piotr, who has never played tennis himself, and for the work he has done,” Sanchez told Ekstra Bladet. “But he has his way of doing things, and I have mine.” He said “Caroline was just confused” by having two coaches “who wanted different things.” Wozniacki said, “I also felt that he could not make a big difference for me personally as a player. Therefore we decided to terminate the relationship.”
The New York Post reported that Serena Williams appeared go on a date in Paris this week with Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, going out to eat and visiting various sites. Serena is 30, Dimitrov is 20. Go Serena…Aussie star Bernard Tomic has pulled from the ATP San Jose event as he needs to attend a court date to address two traffic offenses and barricading himself in his house to avoid police. He is also selling his $150K bright orange BWM that has been getting him into trouble. San Jose officials first said Tomic was withdrawing from the tournament due to a “leg injury,” but when it was revealed he was playing Davis Cup with said leg injury, his withdrawal reason was amended to “personal reasons.” Class all around…Former doubles No. 1 Paola Suarez of Argentina is coming out of retirement to play the Olympics…Gabriela Sabatina told the Argentina media, to paraphrase, ‘Women’s tennis today is boring as hell and they just bang the ball with no variety. I miss players like Justine Henin.’ Word…India’s Sania Mirza says that with all her injuries she will concentrate on making the Olympics in doubles and bag the singles…Victoria Azarenka took millions away from Melbourne, but flies her coaches home in coach while she is up in first class? Thanks for nothing, you know where you guys sit, literally.
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