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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Davis Cup Quarter Finals

This is a very interesting week as the Davis Cup gets underway again, and for the first time the majority of the big names will be playing for their nations as players look to make themselves available for selection for the Olympics next year.

That means the likes of Andy Murray and Roger Federer have returned to the Great Britain and Switzerland teams respectively, while Novak Djokovic will be playing for Serbia. Other big names in action include Juan Martin Del Potro, David Ferrer, Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, although Rafael Nadal pulled out of Spain's tough clash in the USA.

It is no surprise to see Serbia have been installed as the favourites to win the competition as they do have Djokovic, a player who has lost 1 match all season, and his ably backed up by the likes of Victor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic.

Below I will break down the Quarter Final ties, and hopefully will have a pick or two from tomorrow through to Sunday as long as the bookies can pull their fingers out and price up the matches. Also check out my continuing coverage of the MLB and Copa America at http://www.goonersguide.com/

Argentina v Kazakhstan (Clay, Outdoors)
This would be a fairly big mismatch in a football match and it does not look that different on a tennis court. Kazakhstan have made their best impression on this tournament after shocking the Czech Republic, finalists of last season, 3-2 away from home last time out.

Kazakhstan have Andrey Golubev and Mikail Kukushkin representing them in the first 2 Rubbers, but it is hard to expect great things off either, especially on a clay court. Golubev had a solid season last year, but comes into this tie off the back of 14 successive defeats, and losing every match on the main tour on clay courts this season.

Mikhail Kukushkin has also struggled on the main tour this season so this represents a really tough test for the Kazakhs.

Argentina just dont get beaten at home all that often, especially on the clay courts that their opponents will not savour. They will be missing the influential David Nalbandian through injury, but the return of Juan Martin Del Potro from a 2 year absence is most welcome. Juan Monaco has been given the opportunity to play as the other singles player on Day 1, and he is very much at home on the clay courts, holding a win over Andrey Golubev this season.

It seems far too much to expect Kazakhstan to cause a shock here, especially if I consider Del Potro is very much likely to win both his singles matches. There is a good chance this tie is finished before the final day.

Argentina 4-1 Kazakhstan

Sweden v Serbia (Hard, Indoor)
The loss of Robin Soderling looks like meaning the end of the road for Sweden, even more so considering Joachim Johannsson will also be missing. That means the Swedes will be relying on 2 singles players ranked outside of the World 250 if they are to overcome the reigning Champions and favourites.

Serbia have the best player in the World, both in ranking and current form, in their midst and it is unlikely that they will miss this chance to progress.

Victor Troicki is usually not a player to trust wholeheartedly on the main tour, but he loves playing for his courntry and is likely to be given the nod if it is decided that Serbia want to go with the player that has played more tennis lately.

Sweden are home, so they will receive a boost from the crowd, but it seems very unlikely that they can win 3 of the 5 matches against this Serbian team.

Sweden 1-4 Serbia

Germany v France (Clay, Outdoors)
This should really be a one sided contest when it comes to looking at the players each are calling on, but the French are not always there mentally in matches and that could lead to a surprise.

Last season, big things were expected from the French team that contained plenty of talent and depth, but they were surprisingly beaten by the Czech Republic.

Now Guy Forget calls upon the likes of Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet into the team for this tie. All 3 of those players are in the top 20 of the main ATP Rankings- it is likely that Gasquet and Tsonga will be given the nod in the singles in my opinion.

However, Germany are not to be taken lightly as they have some talented players like Phillip Kohlschreiber as well as very awkward customers in the form of Florian Mayer and Phillip Petzschner.

Barring any lapses of concentration, you would have to expect France to get through, but this could be close. Kohlschreiber is a player who particularly enjoys playing for his nation, while the clay courts should at least make this tie a little closer.

However, France did beat Germany 4-1 last season at home, and I expect them to get through again.

Germany 2-3 France

USA v Spain (Hard, Outdoors)
This is likely to be the closest tie to call of the 4 Quarter Finals, but the USA must fancy their chances against a nation that has never won on American soil.

The Americans picked a very very fast hard court to try and give their big power players, the likes of Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick, and edge in the match up... However the biggest edge may have been provided by the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal.

Losing Nadal is a big issue in this tie as the Americans boast a very very good doubles team that effectively provide them an almost guaranteed win in the Doubles Rubber.

The other issue surrounding the loss of Nadal is deciding whether Fernando Verdasco or Feliciano Lopez are to be used as the 2nd singles player (I am assuming David Ferrer is almost guaranteed one of the places). Neither Verdasco nor Lopez are guaranteed points and neither player has been in spectacular form this season (I know Lopez reached the Quarters at Wimbledon, but that was taking advantage of a kind draw as I mentioned in my outright preview).

Lopez may get the call after beating Andy Roddick at Wimbledon, and this tie could come down to that Rubber to decide the winner.

Fortunately, this is the tie being televised in the UK and I am definitely looking forward to it.

USA 3-2 Spain

I will hopefully have some picks during these ties this week, but it will all depend on how quickly the bookmakers can get prices out... At the moment only Victor Chandler have prices for the Argentina tie which is starting tomorrow, although there has been  nothing significant to get my attention.

The USA-Spain tie should be very interesting and I think the Americans can pull the surprise in that one. Again, I will have to look at prices before I decide to make any picks on the matches or the tie overall.

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