Davis Cup Semifinals Preview: Czech Republic vs. Argentina; USA vs. Spain
Czech Republic vs. Argentina, at Parque Roca in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Outdoor Red Clay)
The Czech Republic team is anchored by World No. 6 Tomas Berdych, fresh off a semifinals run at the US Open. World No. 40 Radek Stepanek will play the other singles matches, while Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar will play doubles.
Though they are without the injured David Nalbandian, Argentina boasts two highly-ranked players in World No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro and World No. 11 Juan Monaco. However, del Potro is playing despite doctor’s orders to rest his left wrist, and it’s difficult to predict how the injury will affect his matches. Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank will take doubles duty at the Tie.
Del Potro and Stepanek are scheduled to face off in singles first. Stepanek has a 2-1 advantage in their head-to-head, but the two have never played on clay, and del Potro should be favored if his form is similar to what he showed at the US Open.
Next, Monaco will take on Berdych, who leads their head-to-head 5-0. Berdych should be able to win this match fairly easily, Monaco having not been able to win a set in any of their last three meetings.
After the doubles match, which is difficult to predict, the marquee match will take place (if necessary) between Berdych and del Potro. Del Potro holds a 4-2 advantage in their head-to-head, having beat Berdych most recently at 2012 Roland Garros in four sets. It will be difficult for both players to adjust to the new surface, and this could be a tight match. However, if the left wrist injury does not get worse, I’d expect del Potro to come out with a win.
If necessary, Monaco will then take on Stepanek in the final match. Stepanek holds a 4-2 head-to-head advantage, but Monaco can take comfort in the fact that he won their only match on clay in straight sets this year in Rome. Because of the surface, I would slightly favor Monaco to win this match.
Prediction: Argentina to clinch after four matches.
U.S.A. vs Spain, at Parque Hermanos Castro in Gijon, Spain (Outdoor Red Clay)
Without the services of Rafael Nadal, Spain is still a dangerous Davis Cup team. World No. 5 David Ferrer and World No. 12 Nicolas Almagro will take on singles duties, while Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez will team up for doubles.
The United States will be without Mardy Fish, who withdrew from the US Open with heart problems. World No. 10 John Isner and World No. 26 Sam Querrey will play singles, and fresh off their US Open win, Mike and Bob Bryan will play doubles.
Ferrer and Querrey will take each other on first. Their head-to-head is split evenly, each having won once. However, they’ve never played on clay. Ferrer, the more consistent player, and excellent on clay, should be favored in this match.
One of the more unpredictable matches comes next, between Isner and Almagro. The two have only played once on grass at Wimbledon in 2011, Almagro winning that match in four sets. Isner has the ability to play extremely well on clay. He pushed Nadal to five sets in the first round of 2011 Roland Garros, and he beat Roger Federer in four sets at their Davis Cup tie on clay earlier this year. But Almagro is one of the better clay court players out there, and I would favor him slightly in this match.
Though Granollers and Lopez are both excellent doubles players, the Bryan Brothers should win the doubles rubber.
If necessary, Ferrer will take on Isner. He leads their head-to-head 3-1, but Isner won their last match. All of their previous matches came on hard courts. With Ferrer’s clay court prowess, he will be favored to beat out Isner.
Finally, if necessary, Almagro will take on Querrey. Almagro leads their head-to-head 3-2, but he has won their two clay matches in straight sets, and their three most recent matches. Almagro should prevail.
Prediction: Spain to clinch after four matches.