With the Wimbledon action just over, the focus of tennis fans all over shifts to the Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals. With gruelling five setters and the pride of playing for one’s country, we preview the ties to be played over the weekend.
The biggest news regarding this tie is that British World No.2 Andy Murray, who was crowned last week’s Wimbledon Champion, and World No.1 Novak Djokovic have pulled out. It’s is the first Davis Cup Murray will miss in three years. All this could be in preparation for this year’s Olympic Games. The loss of Andy Murray means that defending champions Great Britain has rather young and inexperienced players for the singles ties, in the form of Kyle Edmund and James Ward. Former World No.1 in Doubles, Jamie Murray, Andy’s brother will be partnering Dominic Inglot, and seems to be the only hope for Team Britain, to pull off a win in the crucial double’s encounter.
Team Serbia sees the inclusion of Janko Tipsarevic and Dusan Lajovic for the singles rubber. Janko, a former top 10 player, has been plagued by injuries in the past few years, and will look to make a mark in this quarter-final tie. A crucial member, Tipsarevic will be partnering veteran doubles player Nenad Zimonjic for the doubles tie. While the doubles tie seems to be the most exciting matchup of this encounter, one can’t really predict which way the singles matches will end up.
The two teams have seen narrow losses in the semi-finals, over the past two years. With some great tennis players included, this quarter-final makes for a very exciting clash.
Team Italy consists of Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini for the singles, and Marco Cecchinato and Paolo Lorenzi for the doubles. Seppi and Fognini have been constant members of the Italian Davis Cup team for quite some years now. Having carried the team on their shoulders, the duo would once again look to produce a favourable result, for they feature in four of the five matches to be played. With the inclusion of lower-ranked players in their doubles unit, they won’t really mind a loss, as long as the singles unit is producing the wins.
Federico Delbonis and Juan Monaco will be the face of Argentina’s singles unit when they face Italy. Delbonis, who lost to Fognini in a tight 5 setter at Wimbledon, has every reason to seek revenge against the Italian Team. Monaco, a clay specialist, will look to make the most out of the surface offered to him in the Italian Homeland. The Doubles team includes Guido Pella partnering Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, who is on a comeback trail, is capable of playing exceptional tennis, be it singles or doubles, and all eyes will be on him, as he looks to lead his country into the semi-finals of the Davis Cup 2016.
The Czech Republic will seek to avenge their 2014 semi-final loss at the hands France when they face each other in their quarter-final tie at the Werk Arena, Trinec, Czech Republic.
France seems to be a rejuvenated team, with singles players like Jo-Wilfried finding form during his quarter-final run at Wimbledon 2016, and the subsequent five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray. Lucas Pouille, the other singles player reached a career-best quarterfinal at Wimbledon, with his loss coming at the hands of Czech Tomas Berdych. With the current No.1 pair in doubles following their recent Wimbledon victory, Nicholas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert will look to continue their winning streak against the formidable Czech, in the doubles rubber.
The Czech team consists of Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rosol playing the singles ties and Adam Pavlasek and Radek Stepanek playing the doubles ties. Jiri Vesely, the 2013 ATP ‘Star of Tomorrow’ Award Winner has had a fairly good season, with a shocking win over World No.1 Novak Djokovic at The Monte Carlo Masters and a 4th round appearance at the recently concluded Wimbledon. Rosol has long been an integral part of the Czech team and will look to carry the team on his shoulder in the absence of star player Tomas Berdych. Stepanek, a doubles specialist, has an excellent record in the doubles ties, and will look to add pressure on the French team with a win.
While USA has been the most successful team in Davis Cup history, their head to head record against Croatia is 0-3, with Croatia having won their most recent tie in the quarter-finals of the World Group in 2009.
Team USA, with 32 Davis Cup titles to their name, last won it in 2007. With a strong lineup of big serving John Isner and Jack Sock for the singles and the evergreen Bryan Brothers playing the doubles, being the host nation for a tie like this just adds up to their advantage. Big-serving Isner will look to make the most of the hard courts of Portland. Meanwhile, the Bryan Brothers will once again look to make an impact in their Davis Cup encounter.
The Croatian team consists of 2014 US Open Champion Marin Cilic, who had a deep run at Wimbledon 2016, reaching the quarter-finals and taking Federer to five sets. Borna Coric, the 19-year-old youngster is making his mark on the tour, and will certainly challenge the likes of Isner and Sock. The doubles feature veteran Ivan Dodig, a former doubles Grand Slam Champion, playing with Marin Draganja. A keen contest, Team USA will look to overturn their deficit against the Croats, and seek to qualify for their first World Group semifinals since 2012.