Archive for the ‘Davis Cup’ Category

19 Nov 2012

In the beginning, they were scrawny. With the induction of the open era in tennis, when professionals were “open” to play previously all amateur tournaments, tennis was ruled by the Aussies, Americans, and Bjorn Borg. For a relatively young professional sport, it grew and evolved quickly. For all that John McEnroe did to change the sport’s reputation as a quiet, gentleman’s sport, Ivan Lendl may have done to change its reputation as a game played by scrawny boys from the West. Becoming the world number 1 in 1983 and defeating McEnroe in one of Roland Garros’ most infamous finals in 1984, he went on to hold the number 1 spot for a total of 270 weeks, longer than anyone until that time.

18 years beyond Lendl’s retirement and Eastern Europe’s fascination and prowess at the sport continues on. Tomas Berdych made the Wimbledon final in 2010, and a year later his countrywoman went a step further and won the whole thing. Nay, dominated.

2012 has been a year to remember for the Czechs, first laying claim to Fed Cup (over another absurdly talented Eastern European power: Serbia) and then taking the Davis Cup from the Spanish juggernaut.

Even after Berdych’s less than impressive effort against Ferrer, you always knew Stepanek would come in with a shot against Almagro. I think it is often understated how many of these older doubles specialists (Llodra, Mirnyi when he was still playing singles) are still incredible athletes and tennis players, but fail to get up for singles matches on the tour. Who could blame them? Many are past the age of 30 and would probably do well to conserve some energy to win at the thing they are now very good at.

But there are still those moments were these types of players give it a go, and it is usually in front of the home fans. To say that Stepanek has paid his dues for his country would be an understatement. The Czechs seem a constant name in the World Group, and to see Stepanek grinding away isn’t a surprise, it’s a constant. His victory against Croatian Ivo Karlovic will forever stay in my mind. Nearly six hours and a pre-Isner/Mahut stat line that was comical. Of 494 points, 96 of them were aces. 1 in 5. I got more joy watching the live score than the actual match.

Yesterday, Stepanek gave one last hurrah for the serve and volley. The man still moves incredibly, particularly front to back, and has some of the best hands on the tour. Both his net rushing tactics and the crowd practically screamed “come at me, bro” at Almagro and the Spaniard cracked. While the turn of the century saw players such as Marat Safin pick apart the serve and volley, not everyone is a top 20 tennis player in the world, and there is still a raw relevance to trying to play aggressively and get to net, even if it isn’t after every serve.

The Davis Cup has its problems, and it doesn’t always live up to the hype. But yesterday, we once again saw why this tournament creates some of the best drama this sport has to offer. Go ride off into the sunset, Radek. You’ve earned it.

27 Feb 2011

Davis Cup

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here

I’m not going to run down every single Davis Cup tie in the World Group, as there are eight in total and a lot of uneven match-ups. Instead I’ll run down the ones I think are most promising, including the Canada/Mexico tie.

Sweden vs. Russia
While Russia is often assumed to be a powerhouse in international competitions, both on the men’s and women’s side, without Kolya and Youzhny, the Russian side is seriously lacking star power. The curious thing is that outside of Soderling, Sweden’s singles hopes fall upon a player ranked 750th in singles. One would have to assume that this contest will likely come down to the doubles to decide things. Personally, I like the Swedish team of Aspelin/Lindstedt. I’ll take Sweden in this one, 3-2.

Croatia vs. Germany

In what promises to be a massive, indoor serve fest, Germany travel to Croatia to take on the hometown favourites. At this time, it’s difficult to know how Germany will play things with Pesky Petz, a solid singles player but also a fantastic doubles player. I wouldn’t be surprised if they split the singles between him and veteran Mayer, and give the remaining two to their highest ranked singles player Kohlschreiber. Croatia will almost surely counter with Marin and Ivo, who make up quite a wall of serving power. I like Germany for the doubles, but Croatia to pull it out 3-2 overall.

Mexico vs. Canada

The Canadians once again head south to the heat near the equator for another Davis Cup clay battle, this time with Mexico. This time they have a new hope in Milos Raonic. The obvious problem arises, however, in that clay will seriously dampen the effects of his big serve, and the general tennis universe has yet to see how well he can do on clay, or how he will play. That being said, Canada also has grinders Peter Polansky and a rejuvenated Frank Dancevic, and veteran doubles beast Daniel Nestor. Mexico’s lineup comes off as rather thin, with no player ranked above 400 in singles. I won’t predict the outcome, as it’s tough to call without knowing who will get the nod in singles for Canada, but I really do like our chance to advance to play Ecuador.

WTA – Kuala Lumpur (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Franny, Bartoli, Kleybs, Jarka Groth

This is a pretty solid line-up in Malaysia, considering it is in Asia and the week before Indian Wells. Other notable names include Lucie, Dinara, and Bojana “Bojangles” Jovanovski, who has been playing incredibly well lately. Well enough, in fact, that she’s the 8th seed in Kuala Lumpur. The tournament kicks off with a bang, featuring a Schiavone/Dokic clash in the first round.

WTA – Monterrey (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
JJ, Pavs, Rezai, Goerges

JJ jumps across the ocean after a strong showing in Doha to the courts of Mexico, a week ahead of her title defense in Indian Wells. Again, a solid line-up with Anastasia and Aravane, and it also features young talent Polona Hercog.

Just a quick note. Unlike the other Mexican tournament in Acapulco, and similar tournaments that have been happening in the western hemisphere, Monterrey is in fact on hard courts.

Bombs Away

Posted by Brodie under: Davis Cup

17 Sep 2010

Rough day if you’re an Argie, amazing day if you’re a Frenchie.

Pico attempted to do what he does best on hard courts: grind away on serve and hope for a bit of a fluke break. He got one in the second set and couldn’t capitalize, and got one in the second and was able to capitalize. Sadly, Llodra was serving like a psycho and was dynamite when he got his first serve bombs in. Pico tried to step in more and play a bit more aggressively, but it didn’t work. He also got burned in cross court rallies. He played them too much like a clay rally, and refused to go down the line. They were typically on the ad side, which meant that changing directions for leftie Llodra was easy peasy, and he ripped a few for winners or unreturnables.

Next up was Nalby and Gael. Gael really did bring his A game, and was firing out of the blocks. He won the first set, then dropped the second. From that point on, it was Gael’s match. It was a battle of Gael’s fitness and Nalby’s mental fitness, and Nalby lost. While he pushed Monf around endlessly, played drop shots, and made him run miles after miles, Gael was more than content to do it. And when Gael got a forehand opportunity, he drained every single one. Slowly but surely, Monf started winning some of those ridiculous points, and kept on getting to the ball. Nalby’s tricks, the drop shot, firing behind Monf, whatever, eventually stopped working. Nalby started making errors, botching volleys, and it was the crack of light that Gael needed to jack the crowd up and ride the horse home.

France has never lost to Argentina, and Argentina has never come back from 0-2 down. It’s more or less sealed, unless Monf decides to go brain dead. Because even a passive Monf will take out Pico, sadly. Though again, don’t be surprised to see the Argies take the dubs tomorrow.

It was nothing but madness in Belgrade arena. Viktor was stuck in for Nole, who probably still has jetlag. He lost (on indoor hard courts? Really?) to Steps, who I had proclaimed as good as dead. What a Davis Cup legend.

Then the match I thought I was sure of turned out to be the total opposite, with Janko totally disposing of Berd. Weird. Janko has been absolutely fantastic since Wimbledon, Berd has been sub-par at best. I guess that might begin to explain it.

Strange as it is, it’s a 1-1 tie, which is what I expected. I’ll be utterly shocked if Serbia doesn’t clean house in the doubles tomorrow.

15 Sep 2010

France vs. Argentina
Serbia vs. Czech Republic

I’ll have a full D-Cup preview up tomorrow.

WTA – Quebec City (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Mono, Aravane, Lucie, Zahlavovzzzzzzzz

WTA – Guangzhou (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Are all out.

9 Jul 2010

I’m still not sure how I feel about indoor tennis. It feels a bit fake, with a lack of atmosphere. At the same time, it represents an interesting position for the players. Bullshit to a “neutral” surface, I’d say, but the conditions are completely controlled; no wind, rain, or sun. And the ball freaking flies, making it faster than any old hard court tourney. It’s like baseball, it’s fine if it has to be under a roof (ala AO, Wimby) but an always indoor stadium is a bit weird (thank Sven the Twins finally moved).

Oddly enough, tennis was never designed to be played outdoors. It originally started as an indoor game, where the walls were actually in played (now referred to as “real tennis” by historians). It rose to popularity around the 16th century in England and France and Henry VIII was a big fan (though he was also a fan of killing his wives). Now you know.

The point? Three of four Davis Cup ties (the ones that matter…) are be playing indoors this weekend, likely so they don’t get rained out. And? It’s making a difference. (Though I still think playing with in play walls would be fun to try…)

France 2 – 0 Spain

Monfils d. Ferrer 7-6, 6-2, 4-6, 5-7, 6-4
Llodra d. Verdasco 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6

I guess when you’ve got the guys who have done the dirty work, you call on them again, but I’m still not entirely sure if calling on poor puppy Ferru for this was the right call. Both Monf and Llodra are big hitters and big servers. Pretty deadly combo on an indoor hard court. Though I guess if you pick Feli and he loses, it looks like the dumbest thing ever.

As for the other match, Fergasm has looked either void of confidence, exhausted, or both for some time. Llodra has been the opposite, full of confidence, emotion, and huge serves. He didn’t face a break point for the entirety of the first set and… well, indoor hard courts. Good combo for France.

Spain will call on Feli and Nando for the doubles tomorrow, and then it’s Llodra/Ferru and Monf/Nando on Sunday. Here’s hoping Spain wins the doubles so Sunday will actually mean something and have some emotion.

Russia 1 – 1 Argentina

Oh Nalby. You’re like a Davis Cup superhero. Great stuff from Nalby, able to come in to beat Kolya, at home, on the indoor hard courts. While he admitted it wasn’t an insanely high quality match (since they’re both coming off injuries) that ain’t easy to do. Unfortunately, Leo Mayer got his ass handed to him by Captain Youz. Argies are going to need the doubles match tomorrow, Nalby/Zeballos vs. Kunitsyn/Oompa Loompa. That’s actually quite do-able, Zeballos ain’t a bad dubs player. Nalby will also need to win his match against Youz on Sunday too, obviously.

Croatia 1 – 1 Serbia

Advantage, Serbia. Nole took out Ljubs in straights and Marin took out Troik in straights, pretty predictable results overall. However, Serbia gets the advantage as they have doubles giant Zimo to call on, as well as Tipsy. Croatia has two randoms no one has ever heard of. You’ve gotta believe Nole can beat Marin or Troik can beat Wrinkley Old Knob Head on Sunday to secure the tie.

Chile 0 – 2 Czech Republic
Poor Chileans. With Gonzo out, they’re left to call on Nicolas Massu and… well, you know you’re in trouble. He’s getting old. Him and Capdeville only managed to take 8 games between the two of them over 6 sets. Yikes.

Pic Me Up: Next Up? Goro

Posted by Brodie under: Davis Cup, Pic Me Up

5 Jul 2010

The Serbian Davis Cup team has arrived in Croatia for their Davis Cup tie (presumably still hungover from Janko’s wedding). On the flight over, Viktor grew two extra arms. Rumours are flying that he will play doubles with Nenad and now be the greatest volleyer ever.

There is further speculation that Goro, from Mortal Kombat, has applied for Serbian citizenship, and will play doubles with Viktor in the next tie if Serbia is able to advance to the semifinals.

5 Jul 2010

ATP – Davis Cup

Players, venues and match-ups: Here

With injuries and withdrawls, this is hardly the most exciting upcoming Davis Cup weekend. Without Berd or Steps, the Czech are down to Dlouhy and Hajek. Argentina is still without Delpo or Pico, but they do have Nalby and Mayer, who I presume would get the call on the indoor hard courts. No Ivo or Mario, so Ljubs steps in with Marin against Serbia. Spain/France is fun, but shouldn’t be tough on indoor hard courts. I’m kind of hoping Spain goes with Feli and Fer since it’s inside, but who knows.

ATP – Newport (250)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Sammy Q, Giraldo, Falla, Rochus

Considering it’s a grass tournament right after Wimbledon, this is a pretty fun draw. Homeboy Sam, could have beens Mahut/Falla in the first round (Mahut gave his shirt/shoes to the Hall too) and MTR favourites Dustin Brown and Fancy Dancy. Definitely worth going to check out if you’re in the area.

WTA – Budapest (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Kleybs, Dulgheru, Bacsinszky, AMG

CLAY. If I didn’t know, and you told me that there were outdoor red clay events in December, I’d probably believe you. Not a terrible draw, some serious big hitters hanging around. I’d love to see Polona have a bit of a run here, she’s had some great clay results this year. And maybe Alize and Chak will win a match. Is that too much to ask?

WTA – Bastad

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Flavs, Aravane, Lucie, Dulkbag

To be totally honest, this tournament is quite a snore outside of the top 4 seeds. If you’re looking for some quick pool points, definitely pick one of those up, I’d say. Blah.

Headband Hero

Posted by Brodie under: Davis Cup, Headbandian

3 Mar 2010

Nalbandian Davis Cup

Here he is to save the day! You might have been wondering (or not) how exactly Nalby has been doing after he pulled out of Buenos Aires after looking decently impressive and getting around the court quite well. Turns out he’s actually good to go for some ballin’ D Cup action and will likely be used in doubles and in a Sunday singles rubber.

This actually adds a whole new dimension to the tie. If the Argies throw Mayer against the non-Sod Swede, they could end Friday 1-1. If they were to win the doubles, they could then throw him to the wolves (AKA Sod) and use Nalby to finish things against the Swedish no-name. However, if the Argies are 1-2 going into Sunday, they’ll likely need to throw Nalby against Sod… hmm. This shit could get interesting. Damn you Sod!

1 Mar 2010

ATP – Davis Cup Round 1
Davis Cup Trophy

The shitshow… er, battle for the Davis Cup starts this weekend. Or something like that. Dear lord. Those poor Argies. The overwhelmingly interesting match-up is USA/Serbia, who DO have Nole (the biggest player in the whole of this round) and stand a chance against the BryBros since it’s on clay and they have Nenad. Serbia shouldn’t have much of a problem, but with the Two American Towers of Tree and Sammy Q, hopefully some epic drama goes down.

Thanks to New Balls, Please for the Davis Cup teams. Of which I am about to blatantly plagiarise.

Spain v Switzerland
Plaza de Toros de la Ribera, Logrono, Spain
H2H: Spain leads 4-1

Spain: David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro, Tommy Robredo, Marcel Granollers
Captain: Albert Costa

Switzerland: Stanislas Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli, Michael Lammer, Yves Allego
Captain: Severin Luthi

France v Germany
Palais des Sports – Toulon, France
H2H: France leads 5-2

France: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Michael Llodra, Julien Benneteau
Captain: Guy Forget

Germany: Philipp Kohlschreiber, Benjamin Becker, Simon Greul, Christopher Kas
Captain: Patrick Kuhnen

Russia v India
Small Sports Arena “Luzhniki” – Moscow, Russia
H2H: India leads 2-1

Russia: Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Teimuraz Gabashvili, Igor Kunitsyn
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev

India: Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi
Captain: Shiv-Prakash Misra

Sweden v Argentina
Kungliga Tennishallen – Stockholm, Sweden
H2H: 2-2

Sweden: Robin Soderling, Andreas Vinciguerra, Simon Aspelin, Robert Lindstedt
Captain: Mats Wilander

Argentina: Leonardo Mayer, Horacio Zeballos, Eduardo Schwank, Federico Del Bonis
Captain: Tito Vazquez

Croatia v Ecuador
Gradska Sportska Dvorana Varazdin – Varazdin, Croatia
H2H: 0-0

Croatia: Marin Cilic, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig, Antonio Veic
Captain: Goran Prpic

Ecuador: Nicolas Lapentti, Giovanni Lapentti, Ivan Endara, Julio-Cesar Campozano
Captain: Raul Viver

Serbia v United States
Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, Serbia
H2H: 0-0

Serbia: Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonjic
Captain: Bogdan Obradovic

United States: John Isner, Sam Querrey, Mike Bryan, Bob Bryan
Captain: Patrick McEnroe

Chile v Israel
Enjoy Tennis Center – Coquimbo, Chile
H2H: 1-1

Chile: Fernando Gonzalez, Nicolas Massu, Paul Capdeville, Jorge Aguilar
Captain: Hans Gildermeister

Israel: Dudi Sela, Harel Levy, Jonathan Erlich, Andy Ram
Captain: Eyal Ran

Belgium v Czech Republic
Expodroom Bree – Bree, Belgium
H2H: Czech Republic leads 7-3

Belgium: Olivier Rochus, Xavier Malisse, Steve Darcis, Christophe Rochus
Captain: Reginald Willems

Czech Republic: Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Jan Hajek, Lukas Dlouhy
Captain: Jaroslav Navratil

WTA – Monterrey (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
JJ, Dani, Pavs, Domi

Do. Not. Care. Literally picked my WTA tennis pool team to set it up for picking going into IW. I didn’t even look to see who is playing in this tournament. Though I lucked out with Pavs and Lucie. Meh. Might watch the semis or something. (And yeah, epic weaksauce if JJ can’t win this friggin’ thing.)

Random Exo – Billie Jean King Cup

This all seemed so fun and new last year. And now it’s just blah. Sorry BJK. I’m curious to see how Ana performs having spent some time with the new coach (if she can toss a ball or hit a solid forehand I’ll be happy) and it will be fun to see Kim play. You know, for an entire two sets of no ad tennis. I’ll watch but… yeeeeaaaah.

Tall Men! Fuck Yeah!

Posted by Brodie under: BryBros, Davis Cup, Q-Man, Tree

18 Feb 2010

P-Mac has announced the American Davis Cup team, and… it’s actually awesome. Big men Tree and Sammy Q will get the call along the BryBros after Dick said he won’t be playing the first tie (on clay) and… well, nobody wants Lames Blah on their team, especially if it’s clay.

It’s great to see a couple of the young guys get a chance, especially because they’re the real future of American tennis, and are likely going to be hanging around the top 30 or 20 for some time to come. Good on ya boys. Er… men.

Mind The Racket Podcast:

Episode 7 – US Open Week 2 Wrap-Up