Davis Cup Semi-final preview

With the 2014 tennis season soon coming to a close, the latter rounds of the Davis Cup take place with the semi-finals being played over the next weekend. This year’s competition has thrown up some tremendous ties including 3 of the 4 quarter-final ties, going down to the final rubber. In the semis, last year’s winners Czech Republic travel to Paris to take on France at Roland Garros with Switzerland hosting Italy in the other.

Czech Republic V France

Nominations:

Czech Republic – Jaroslav Navratil (Captain); Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol, Radek Stepanek, Jiri Vesely.

France: – Arnaud Clement (Captain); Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau.

 

The first featured semi-final is arguably the tougher to call tie, with Czech Republic, looking to win a third successive title, travelling to Roland Garros to take on a strong French side, featuring some top names.

The Czech’s arrive in Paris after beating the Netherlands 3-2 before travelling to Tokyo to defeat Japan 5-0. The defending champions found themselves trailing 1-0 to the Dutch after Robin Haase came down from a 2-1 set deficit to earn his country the first rubber. Berdych then one both of his single rubbers in straight sets to earn them the win, with himself partnering Radek Stepanek to win the inbetween doubles rubber. Lukas Rosol lost the dead final match but Czech Republic were still on course to win a third consecutive title.

France are looking for their first Davis Cup title since 2001, and have performed well by beating both Australia and Germany on home soil. Their first round tie against a young Australian side was a complete whitewash as the they completed a 5-0 win, with the loss of only one set. The tie against the Germans was expected to be a comfortable win for Arnaud Clement’s squad, with Tommy Haas and Phillipe Kohlschreiber unavailable for the visitors. It was anything but comfortable to start with as the Germans went 2-0 up after unlikely wins for Tobias Kamke and Peter Gojowczyk. Julian Benneteau and Michael Llodra reduced the deficit in the doubles, before Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made up for his 5 set defeat to Gojowczyk by beating Kamke in straight sets. The final rubber was the decider, and it was Gael Monfils who held his nerve to win the match 6-1 7-6 (0) 6-2, and send his country through to their first semi-final appearance for 3 years.

Making predictions for the Davis Cup is always so hard to do as players can be replaced before a rubber, messing up any set predictions, so I’m going to say a score rather than make individual rubber predictions. Those will be on my twitter feed before the rubber begins. The single rubbers are equally poised, so I can see it being decided by the doubles clash with the singles being split 2-2. Overall, this will be the better contest to watch, with the sides being so strong.

Prediction: Czech Republic to win 3-2.

Draw:

Richard Gasquet V Tomas Berdych

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga V Lukas Rosol

Julien Benneteau / Gael Monfils V Radek Stepanek / Jiri Vesely

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga V Tomas Berdych

Richard Gasquet V Lukas Rosol

 

Switzerland V Italy

Nominations:

Switzerland – Severin Luthi (Captain); Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli, Michael Lammer

Italy – Corrado Barazzutti (Captain); Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Paolo Lorenzi, Simone Bolelli

 

The second semi-final contains only one former champion, with the 1976 winners Italy travelling to Switzerland who have never lifted the trophy. This year could be quite different for the Swiss, with Roger Federer coming back into the fold alongside Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka to create a strong squad. Despite being ranked one position above Switzerland, the Italians surely come into the match as underdogs with only 1 player inside the world’s top 40.

The Swiss have reached this stage after beating last year’s runner-up Serbia 3-2 at Novi Sad. With Serbia missing Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic they were always going to struggle, and found themselves defeated by the time the doubles ended. Federer and Wawrinka took care of their respective singles matches, with Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer teaming up to clinch the tie, before both players lost their respective dead rubbers. It was Kazakhstan who travelled to Geneva for the quarter-finals, and they took a shock lead after Andrey Golubev beat Wawrinka in four sets. Federer restored parity by beating Mikhail Kukushkin in the next match before the visitors recorded another shock with Golubev teaming up with Aleksandr Nedovyesov to stun Federer and Wawrinka. The Swiss found themselves having to win the final two rubbers to reach the semis and Wawrinka set up Federer to clinch the win after Stan beat Kukushkin after recovering from a set down. After winning the tie-break to love, Federer’s victory never looked in doubt and he clinched a straight sets win to send his country through to the semi-finals.

The Italians travelled to Argentina at the first round stage and were pleased to hear the news that Juan Martin Del Potro was ruled out of the tie. Carlos Berlocq gave the Argentines the lead by beating Andreas Seppi in four sets, with the loss of just 3 games after losing the first set. Then came the Fognini show. After equalling the tie up at 1-1 with Juan Monaco being dispatched in straights, Fognini partnered Seppi in a doubles win which featured 3 tie-breaks. He then sealed the tie for Italy by beating Berlocq, with the final rubber between Seppi and Monaco not being played. Their quarter-final clash with Great Britain produced one of the ties of this year’s event, with it going down to the final match between Seppi and James Ward. Fognini got his country off to the best start by seeing off Ward in 4 sets, with Andy Murray beating Seppi to even things up. The doubles was expected to be vital, and Murray alongside Colin Fleming, gave Britain a foot into the semis, with Murray expected to clinch the tie with another singles win. Fognini had other ideas and produced a near-perfect clay performance to restore impetus into the tie and set up the final match. With all the momentum, and the partisan-like crowd getting into things, Seppi was always favourite and gave the crowd what they wanted by holding his nerve to beat Ward in straight sets, and send the Italians into their first semi-final since 1998.

For the reasons said above it is unfair to make individual rubber predictions, but this tie is slightly more straightforward to foresee than the other semi-final. Personally I can’t see anything but a Switzerland win, with Federer and Wawrinka featuring in every projected rubber. The court pace has been judged to be medium slow, so could help the Italian’s with Fognini and Seppi quite comfortable on slower surfaces. The tie could be over after the doubles match, and I would be very surprised if it came down to the final rubber. The key for the Italians is the match between Wawrinka and Fognini, one that Fognini will have to win unless Simone Bolelli can pull off an upset against Federer.

Prediction: Switzerland to win 3-0

Draw:

Roger Federer V Simone Bolelli

Stan Wawrinka V Fabio Fognini

Roger Federer / Stan Wawrinka V Paolo Lorenzi / Andreas Seppi

Roger Federer V Fabio Fognini

Stan Wawrinka V Simone Bolelli

 

So what are your thoughts on the upcoming Davis Cup semi-finals? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my preview of the Davis Cup Semi-finals, I hoped you enjoyed it. For any questions or queries on this blog, or other blogs, either contact me on my twitter handle – @Tennis17MAD or via email at – jamesfroud0608@hotmail.co.uk

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