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Davis Cup drama returns to the fore

Novak Djokovic's pre-Championships press conference.
by Alexandra Willis
Friday 5 April 2013

It's two months since websites, twitter streams and Facebook feeds were full of Davis Cup news, but the celebrated competition has already rolled around again. Here's Wimbledon.com's take on what to watch where this weekend...

WORLD GROUP QUARTER-FINALS

There are no shortage of barnstormers among the last eight teams in the competition's upper echelons.

Canada v Italy, played at the wonderfully-named Thunderbird Sports Arena in Vancouver, Canada, is likely to come right down to the wire. Milos Raonic, the Canadian No.1 who proved himself so emphatically in his team's dramatic 3-2 win over Spain in February, starts against Italian No.2 Fabio Fognini, but it is Canadian No.2 Vasek Pospisil, who will kick things off against Italian No.1 Andreas Seppi. The doubles, as ever, could decide it, and Canada's nominated pair of the multi-Grand Slam champion Daniel Nestor and Pospisil should have the edge over Daniele Bracciali and Paolo Lorenzi. Should they triumph, it will be Canada's first visit to the Davis Cup semi-finals since 1913. 

USA v Serbia, at the equally wonderfully-named Taco Bell Arena in Boise, USA, will also be an interesting one. This tie features the only member of the Big Four playing this weekend, Novak Djokovic (pictured above), who was not necessarily expected to play, but has proven once again why he is one of the competition's most committed players. Djokovic, who opens the weekend against American No.2 John Isner, will be looking to bounce back from his slightly surprising loss to Tommy Haas in Miami last week, and, in the absence of Janko Tipsarevic, is joined by Viktor Troicki who takes on Sam Querrey, the US No.2. But the Serbs will really have their work cut out in the doubles, Nenad Zimonjic and Ilja Bozoljac facing the record-breaking Bryan brothers. It will be a big surprise for the USA if they don't advance to the semi-finals. 

Argentina v France will likely be an ebullient occasion, played at Buenos Aires's infamous Parque Roca. Without Argentine heavyweights Juan Martin Del Potro and David Nalbandian in singles, it should be an entirely French affair,  although French No.1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has insisted that playing on clay in Argentina will nullify their advantage. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the heavy favourite against world No.71 Carlos Berlocq, before Juan Monaco takes on world No.13 Gilles Simon. Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos are named to contest the doubles against the experienced pair of Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra. 

Kazakhstan v Czech Republic is the weekend's wild card, after the Kazakhs defeated Austria by a comfortable 3-1 margin . It is a re-match of their thrilling first round tie in Ostrava two years ago, when Mikhail Kukushkin shocked everyone by winning a tempestuous fifth rubber against Jan Hajek. But, despite playing away from home in Astana, and being without top player Tomas Berdych, the defending champions are already two rubbers up after the first day. Hajek took revenge on Kukushkin in straight sets, and Lukas Rosol won a tight four-setter over Andrey Golubev. The doubles will see Ivo Minar and Radek Stepanek take on Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin before the reverse singles on Sunday. 

EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND

Closer to SW19, GB take on Russia at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, with Leon Smith's team hoping to advance to the World Group play-offs in September. But their opponents are no slouches, with former top 20 player Dmitry Tursunov taking on Dan Evans in the first rubber, followed by James Ward against Evgeny Donskoy in the second. Colin Fleming and Wimbledon champion Jonny Marray will play the doubles against Ignor Kunitsyn and Victor Baluda. 

You can watch all the proceedings in Coventry live and exclusively on the LTA website

The other second round ties are South Africa v Poland, Romania v the Netherlands, Ukraine v Sweden

The four winners will advance to the World Group play-offs from 13-15th September. 

ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND

Just two ties in this group, Australia v Uzbekistan, tied at 1-1 after the first day, and Japan v Korea, with the Japanese 2-0 up after the first day. 

The two winners will advance to the World Group play-offs. 

AMERICAS GROUP I SECOND ROUND

Two ties also, Chile v Ecuador and Uruguay v Colombia.

The two winners will advance to the World Group play-offs. 

Read reports and follow all the action from the Davis Cup weekend on DavisCup.com


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