Thursday, September 15, 2016

2016 Davis Cup Semis/Playoffs Preview

The 2016 Davis Cup semifinals will be contested this weekend in Glasgow, Great Britain and Zadar, Croatia.  There's also the 8 World Group playoff ties to be played on 4 continents.  Here's my thoughts:


Argentina at Great Britain: An inform Del Potro is back in the fold for the Argentines against the defending champion Brits, who now have some depth behind Murray with the play of Edmund and Evans recently.  It's an uphill battle for Argentina battle with Delbonis and Pella not quite in the form of earlier this year.  I feel like they could get a tremendous tie from Del Potro and still lose with the Murray brothers in doubles.  And with Del Potro playing no. 2 singles it's certainly not a given that they'll win a point on day 1.  I think Argentina gets a point somewhere whether a heroic effort or Pella beating Edmund, but they'll need to 2 in the first 2 todays to prevent Murray from clinching vs Pella or Delbonis (or even Mayer).  GBR 3 ARG 1

France at Croatia: France doesn't have Monfils or Tsonga available but they still can field a strong team with Gasquet and Pouille, not to mention the world's top doubles team of Herbert/Mahut.  Cilic was brought down to earth by Sock at the Open and Coric has only been so-so recently.  I'm not sure if Gasquet will be much good but we have two very intriguing first day matches.  If those are split, France should win the doubles and then all they need is a Pouille win on Sunday to seal the deal.  That's what I'm going with but there all several permutations of this tie and every rubber but the doubles is at least somewhat up in the air.  FRA 3 CRO 2

World Group Playoffs

Switzerland at Uzbekistan: The Swiss are not without Federer and Wawrinka but also the experience Chiudinelli, leaving an improved Laaksonen and some guy named Bellier to take on Istomin and Dustov.  I can't believe Istomin will let this opportunity slip, especially at home.  He'll win all 3 points, as per usual in Asian group ties, and the Uzbeks will make their World Group debut next year.  UZB 3 SUI 1 

Brazil at Belgium: Last year's finalists are the verge of being relegated the following year, and they could upset year.  Goffin hasn't been great recently and Brazil has the solid doubles tandem of Melo/Soares plus the rising Monteiro to compliment Bellucci.  I think Brazil extends this to a live 5th rubber with wins by Bellucci and the doubles, but the veteran Darcis rescues the hosts by defeating Monteiro in a live 5th rubber.  BEL 3 BRA 2

Slovakia at Australia: The Aussies have way too much firepower for the Slovaks, especially at home on their beloved grass.  They'd be favorites even without Kyrgios and Tomic against Kovalik and Martin, who have had decent years.  But this tie could turn into a rout very quickly.  AUS 3 SVK 0

Chile at Canada: This tie does not feature a top 100 with Raonic's absence and Pospisil falling in the rankings, but the Canadians should be able to handle the Chileans.  Dancevic often shows up well in Davis Cup, and the tie won't be played on clay, where Jarry and Garin would certainly want it to be.  With Nestor not playing either, there's a chance the teen sensation Shapovalov gets some action, at least in a dead rubber.  I think Chile may find a way to win a rubber but certainly not the tie.  CAN 3 CHI 1

Kazakhstan at Russia: This has the potential to be one of the better ties of the eight playoffs, especially since the Kazakhs generally punch above their level in Davis Cup.  Kuznetsov has had a nice year for the Russians and he's joining by Donskoy, Kravchuk, and Rublev to battle Kukushkin, Nedovyesov, and Golubev.  Kukushkin has been great in Davis Cup and will certainly have a chance in his singles matches.  Russia also occasionally flounders at home, so I'm going to pick an upset here.  Kazakhstan is too good in this competition and Russia's team doesn't inspire lots of confidence.  KAZ 3 RUS 1

Spain at India: At least the Indian tennis fans will get to see Nadal and Ferrer perform their craft.  What a bum draw for India, who finally has some singles players who inspire a modicum of hope, Ramanathan made the quarters in Chennai and Myneni qualified for the Open, but they have no chance against the Spanish.  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say Paes and whoever manages to beat the Lopez/Lopez doubles team, but that's certainly not a given.P  ESP 3 IND 1

Poland at Germany: What on earth happened to Janowicz? Well, it doesn't matter, because he's not even here.  Two guys I don't know (Majchrzak and Hurkacz) will play singles for Poland against not a great German team with Mayer and Struff, but they should be plenty good to win their singles matches.  I'll give the doubles to Kubot/Matkowski though.  GER 3 POL 1

Ukraine at Japan: Dolgopolov is not here, and Nishikori and Stakhovsky have not been nominated on day 1, which means the in form Marchenko is the highest ranked singles player.  Japan has nominated able singles players in Daniel and Nishioka while Ukraine's second is Smirnov.  There's a scenario for Ukraine Marchenko wins on day 1 and steals the doubles with Stakhovsky playing, the Stakhovsky manages to beat Nishioka in a live 5th rubber after Nishikori extends the tie, but I'm not going to pick that.  JPN 3 UKR 1

Zone Group I Relegation Ties

Colombia at Dominican Republic (loser plays Barbados in relegation tie): Hardly any of the players here have had great years (Giraldo, Gonzalez, Estrella Burgos) and there's no Cabal to team with Farah to tip the Colombians in the doubles.  This tie has live 5th rubber written all over and going to go with the home team and Hernandez-Fernandez upsetting Gonzalez to win the tie.

Pakistan at New Zealand (loser relegated): Pakistan playing without Qureshi and are already down 1-0, so going with the Kiwis here.

Slovenia at Portugal (loser relegated): Slovenia has only one player ranked in the top 750 (Zemlya #158) and the top 100 Portuguese in Sousa and Elias. This should be a fairly straightforward affair.

Netherlands at Sweden (loser plays Israel in relegation tie): The Ymer brothers are slated to take on Haase and de Bakker with Rojer looming in the doubles.  A few years from now maybe the Ymers can make this competitive, but I don't think that time is now.  The Swedes haven't even put their best foot forward in the doubles this time.  NED 3 SWE 0

Zonal Group II Promotion Ties

Venezuela at Peru

Taiwan at Thailand

Bosnia & Herzegovina at Lithuania - No Berankis so Dzumhur and Basic should roll.


Denmark at Belarus

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