Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Davis Cup Quarterfinals Preview

Another Davis Cup weekend is coming up, which seems a bit awkward in this, an Olympic year, as the competition now runs opposite tour events in Hamburg and Bastad besides the usual Newport.  Still, berths in the semis of the competition are on the line, as well as important ties in the zone groups.

World Group Quarterfinals

Great Britain at Serbia: The anticipated match between Djokovic and Murray won't take place, and it doesn't look like either player will be playing.  The host Serbs will also be without Troicki and so it will be Lajovic and Krajinovic to play Edmund and possibly Evans.  Edmund has had a nice year and Evans has been good in Davis Cup but Serbia is at home on clay, and their B-team usually plays pretty well in this competition.  They'll also field a decent doubles and while J.Murray is excellent, it is currently unclear who he'll play with.  I think Lajovic is ready to be a hero.  SRB 3 GBR 1

Argentina at Italy: Del Potro returns for the visitors alongside the rest of a team having good years in Delbonis, Pella, and Monaco, and the match will be played on clay.  Fognini, Seppi, and Lorenzi should be ready to go at home but Fognini hasn't been too good recently.  It's unclear exactly who win be playing for Italy, but given the recent from of Del Potro, I'm picking them to advance.  Italy can be tough to beat at home (ask A.Murray) but I think Argentina's depth will prevail on clay, possibly in a live 5th rubber.  ARG 3 ITA 2 

France at Czech Republic: France enjoyed an excellent Wimbledon and their two singles stars Tsonga and Pouille will be joined by doubles champs Herbert/Mahut to take on a Czech team without Berdych.  Vesely, Rosol, and Stepanek have been pretty good recently too but I think France is going to have way to much firepower.  There might be a lot of tiebreaks on this indoor hard court, and I think the Czechs will steal a rubber somewhere but winning 3 will be next to impossible.  FRA 3 CZE 1

Croatia at United States: The US hasn't played well against World Group competition at home recently, Cilic is coming off a great Wimbledon run, and neither Isner nor Sock have been playing great recently.  This tie could go either way and could hinge on the play of Coric.  If the US can be ahead 2-1 after the doubles, I think they can pull it off but they really need an Isner win on day 1, which isn't a given (see Ward in Glasgow).  I'm not very confident with this pick, but I think Nebraska's own Jack Sock will win a live 5th rubber over Coric (or Dodig) to send the US to the semis.  USA 3 CRO 2

Europe/Africa Zonal Group I
Winners to playoffs

Spain at Romania: This match will be on a hard court in Romania but Bautista Agut and Lopez should be up to the challenge as Spain sends some guys who play on hards.  Romania doesn't have anyone ranked inside the top 150.  ESP 3 ROU 1

Austria at Ukraine: Thiem and Dolgopolov are both skipping this tie.  Ukraine is at home and has much better depth with Stakhovsky and Marchenko.  They should be able to cruise.  UKR 3 AUT 0

Netherlands at Russia: Many of the top Russians not in action so it's Gabashvili, Kravchuk, Rublev, and Karatsev vs Haase and de Bakker.  This could be an interesting tie with several experienced players on both sides and the wildcard in Rublev.  I think Russia finds a way to get this done at home, but really this is tough to predict.  RUS 3 NED 2

Hungary at Slovakia: Hungary has played well is Davis Cup the last couple years but Slovakia may be asking a little much.  Klizan isn't playing though so it may be possible for Fucsovics and Nagy to upset Martin, Kovalik (who's had a couple ATP wins this year), and Gombos.  But I don't think it will happen.  SVK 3 HUN 1

Americas Zonal Group I
Winners to playoffs

Ecuador at Brazil: Stranger things have happened but Brazil has Bellucci and a world class doubles team.  Ecuador has no one in the top 300.  BRA 3 ECU 0

Colombia at Chile: Chile has had a lot of young talent recently but not much success on the ATP.  This is a chance for them at home with no Falla for Colombia and Gonzalez in the second singles.  But Giraldo should be ready and Cabal/Farah are good in doubles.  COL 3 CHI 1

Asia/Pacific Zonal Group I
Winners to playoffs

South Korea at India: H.Chung is not playing for the Koreans so with Myneni, Ramanathan, and Bopanna/Paes, India shouldn't have much difficulty at home against a Korean team with no one in the top 400.  IND 3 KOR 1

China at Uzbekistan: China might be able to put up a little bit of a fight here as Wu and Zhang are ranked in the top 200, but Istomin is usually good for his 3 points and Dustov is an able second singles player at this level.  UZB 3 CHN 1

Europe/Africa Zonal Group II
Promotion semis:

South Africa at Lithuania - no Berankis
Turkey at Bosnia & Herzegovina - Dzumhur a top 100 player
Latvia at Belarus - no Gulbis
Finland at Denmark - Nieminen scheduled to postpone retirement again

Relegation ties (losers to Group III):

Norway at Luxembourg - no Muller
Bulgaria at Tunisia - no Dimitrov, but Jaziri is here (ranked 58)
Egypt at Monaco - this might finally be the time Monaco's Group II stay ends
Zimbabwe at Georgia

Americas Zonal Group II
Promotion semis: 

Mexico at Peru
Venezuela at El Salvador

Relegation ties (losers to Group III):

Uruguay at Guatemala - no P.Cuevas
Puerto Rico at Paraguay

Asia/Pacific Zonal Group II
Promotion semis:

Taiwan at Philippines - no Lu or Wang as usual, but Taiwan still heavy favorites
Vietnam at Thailand

Relegation ties (losers to Group III):

Malaysia at Kuwait
Sri Lanka at Indonesia

Africa Zonal Group III

Pool A: Cameroon, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria
Pool B: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar

Morocco, Namibia, and host Madagascar still undefeated after 2 or 3 ties, Nambia at 2-1

Americas Zonal Group III

Pool A: Bolivia, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama
Pool B: Bahamas, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago

Bolivia and Jamaica have clinched the top spots in Pool A, Bahamas (3-0) and Honduras (2-1) looking good in Pool B but Costa Rica (1-1) still alive

Asia/Pacific Zonal Group III

Pool A: Hong Kong, Iran, Pacific Oceania, Turkmenistan
Pool B: Cambodia, Lebanon, Qatar, Singapore, Syria

Host Iran, Syria, and Qatar still unbeaten after 2 rubbers each

Asia/Pacific Zonal Group IV

Pool A: Myanmar, Omar, Saudi Arabia, UAE
Pool B: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Mongolia, Tajikistan

UAE, Jordan, and Iraq all still undefeated.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you made it all the way to the end.  I think these lower zones are intriguing, even if none of the players are ranked.  It's good to see them competing and tennis being promoted in these countries.  Have a great weekend and enjoy the Davis Cup!

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