Ricky Dimon

  • Approach Shots: Djokovic headlines Davis Cup action

    2013-04-04 22:02:32

    "Approach Shots" is Ricky's weekly look at what's ahead on the ATP Tour.

    This time last year, Novak Djokovic was resting after another Miami triumph in preparation for the clay-court swing. His absence opened the door for the Czech Republic to topple the visiting Serbs on the way to its Davis Cup title. Team USA is not so fortunate this year. The host Americans won’t have to face Janko Tipsarevic in their quarterfinal tie against Serbia, but they do have to go up against Djokovic.


    As for the Czechs, they are without Tomas Berdych for a road tie against Kazakhstan. In Buenos Aires, both Argentina and—to a lesser extent—France are shorthanded. The hosts are missing Juan Martin Del Potro while the French team does not have an in-form Richard Gasquet at its disposal. Only one tie features a pair of fully-loaded squads, and the result should be a competitive, entertaining affair between Italy and Canada.


    Serbia vs. United States


    Where: Boise, Idaho
    Surface: Indoor hard
    Serbia: Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Nenad Zimonjic, Illija Bozoljac
    United States: Sam Querrey, John Isner, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan


    Prediction: Serbia 3, United States 2


    It’s clear as day what has to happen for each side in order to win this first-round Davis Cup tie, but that means there is pressure on everyone (except maybe not on Serbia’s doubles team, which will be a considerable underdog against Bob and Mike Bryan). Djokovic basically has to win both of his singles rubbers, because getting two points combined from doubles and from Viktor Troicki is improbable at best. The Bryan Brothers absolutely have to take care of business on Saturday, because any win over Djokovic is a virtual impossibility. That also means both Sam Querrey and John Isner have to beat Troicki, who is not playing well but is far from a pushover. If the first four rubbers go according to plan (two wins for Djokovic, plus victories for Querrey and the Bryans), the tie will all come down to Troicki vs. Isner. Both players are enduring a crisis in confidence—Isner to an even greater extent.

    France vs. Argentina


    Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Surface: Clay
    France: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Julien Benneteau, Michael Llodra
    Argentina: Juan Monaco, Carlos Berlocq, David Nalbandian, Horacio Zeballos


    Prediction: France 3, Argentina 0


    Playing at home and on clay, Argentina has a chance at every single line in this tie. The problem for the hosts, however, is that France has a great chance at every single line. Neither Jo-Wilfried Tsonga nor Gilles Simon (a late replacement for Gasquet) is at his best on dirt, but both are more than capable. Furthermore, they are in solid albeit unspectacular form at the moment. Simon reached the fourth round in Indian Wells and the quarters in Miami. Tsonga did the reverse (quarters in Indian Wells, fourth round in Miami) and he also has a title to his credit this year (Marseille). With Juan Monaco struggling immensely, Del Potro’s absence will likely be too much to overcome. Monaco won two singles rubbers against Germany in February, but he is 0-5 in ATP tournaments this season and 1-10 in sets.


    Italy vs. Canada


    Where: Vancouver, Canada
    Surface: Indoor hard
    Italy: Andreas Seppi, Fabio Fognini, Simone Bolelli, Paolo Lorenzi
    Canada: Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil, Daniel Nestor, Frank Dancevic


    Prediction: Canada 3, Italy 1


    On paper this tie should all come down to doubles, and that very well could end up being the reality. Milos Raonic will be a heavy favorite in both of his singles rubbers on an indoor hard court, against Fabio Fognini on Friday and Andreas Seppi on Sunday. Either Vasek Pospisil or Jesse Levine will have chances against Fognini and Seppi amidst these conditions (playing at home and on a fast surface), but a victory in just one of those rubbers may be too much to ask. Doubles specialist Daniel Nestor would be a considerable favorite as the class of any doubles match, but he has been struggling with Mahesh Bhupathi on tour and the veteran Canadian was visibly suffering from a calf strain in Miami. The home team is the catbird seat with Raonic as its anchor, but the door is open for a deeper Italian squad to pull off a minor upset.

    Czech Republic vs. Kazakhstan


    Where: Astana, Kazakhstan
    Surface: Indoor clay
    Czech Republic: Lukas Rosol, Jan Hajek, Radek Stepanek, Ivo Minar
    Kazakhstan: Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev, Evgeny Korolev, Yuri Schukin


    Prediction: Kazakhstan 3, Czech Republic 2


    With Berdych out of action and Radek Stepanek unfit to play both singles and doubles, the defending champions are in dire straits. The Czech Republic is still clearly superior on paper, but this is not being played on paper; rather, on the clay courts of Kazakhstan. Neither Lukas Rosol nor Jan Hajek is comfortable on the slow stuff. That being said, the Czechs certainly have a chance because the host Kazakhs are far from a juggernaut. Mikhail Kukushkin is in dismal form and Andrey Golubev is playing only slightly better than he did during his legendary 2011 slump. Look for Stepanek to come in and snag the doubles point, but Kukushkin and Golubev should have just enough to take three of the four singles rubbers.

    Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!


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I agree with France over Argentina pick, but I think the USA can take Serbia, 3-2.

scoot , 4/5/13 3:08 AM

Scoot is right.

With Ricky picking Serbia 3-2, he is picking Troicki over Izzy. Possible but I'd say this matchup is pretty EVEN with Izzy on his favourite surface playing with a DC home crowd on his side.


Conspirator , 4/5/13 3:49 AM

I'm not so sure. Neither Isner nor Querrey are that experienced in DC. Both are heavily reliant on their serve but if nerves kick in, as they often do for a lot of players in the pressurised atmosphere of Davis Cup, then Serbia could edge the win.

ed251137 , 4/5/13 4:47 AM

We will have to see what kind of effect playing in front of a home crowd will have on Isner and Querrey. Will it energize them and inspire them to play better tennis? I certainly hope that Querrey will make a better effort than he did against Berdy in Miami.

Troicki and Isner have both not been playing well at all. It remains to be seen if Isner can find his game and that serve has to be working. It could go either way.

I don't think that either team is a big favorite here. Both teams have weaknesses.

Nativenewyorker , 4/5/13 5:13 AM

Rosol has put the Czechs ahead 2-0.

Conspirator , 4/5/13 2:25 PM

^^^Ooh, who did he "rosol"?

rafaisthebest , 4/5/13 3:11 PM

Djokovic is making a mistake to play this tie IMO. This could be a costly scheduling mistake that could take its toll somewhere down the celandar..

vamosrafa , 4/5/13 3:26 PM


RickyDimon , 4/5/13 5:10 PM

USA - Serbia at this point 1:2. Thus, chances are 50:50.

danica , 4/5/13 7:38 PM

^^^ What she said.

Conspirator , 4/5/13 9:38 PM

I was surprised Ricki backed France for a 3:0 win in view of Simon's track record. He seems unable to play his best tennis when it comes to Davis Cup.

I bet he didn't relish having to replace Gasquet. To boot he appears to be carrying an injury as he needed treatment during the 2nd set. Hope it is not a recurrence of the knee problem which has plagued him for years.

ed251137 , 4/5/13 10:29 PM

....................Isner's serve went AWOL. And Nole was able to sleepwalk his way through the match.

ed251137 , 4/6/13 9:23 AM

OK US and Serbia is tied 1-1. I think if the Bryans wins their doubles match, and Big John takes down Troicki, then US wins. I'm not couinting out Sam though, he could give Djokovic some trouble coz they are playing on a fast HC which is to Sam's liking = many free points, Aces.

scoretracker , 4/6/13 10:38 AM

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! First set SERBIAAAA!! Go, go, GOOOO!!! :)

danica , 4/6/13 10:01 PM

...and BRAVO.... 15:13 in fifth set for SERBIA!!!
Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic... thank you!!!

zare , 4/7/13 1:45 AM

Disappointing for the Byrans and team USA but congrats to Serbia for the win. Bozoljac was fantastic. Hard to believe that he's 27 and ranked 336 in singles and over 1000 in doubles. That's what sports is all about. That was the moment of his career. I guess Serbia isn't a bad team to lose to. I have nothing but respect for them.

chr18 , 4/7/13 1:46 AM

Few yeas ago, Bozoljac took the first set off Federer at Wimbledon. He got through the qualifying rounds and had to play the great man in the first round. This match today was certainly the match of his career. Great, fantastic match, really tough and really tight. Congrats to both teams. I am happy. I imagine no one could even dream this outcome.
Way to go Serbia! :)))

danica , 4/7/13 2:30 AM

It was 2010 2nd round and the 2nd set he won. Yes I remember him and I thought he'd have a much better career than he has had to this point.

chr18 , 4/7/13 3:18 AM

Rosol becoming a DC legend carrying his team to victory. I don't think anybody can say he is a one-hit wonder now. Put this with the record doubles win with Berdy over the Swiss and he's done a lot for his country.

chr18 , 4/7/13 2:35 PM


rogervic , 5/18/13 1:56 AM


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Approach Shots: Djokovic headlines Davis Cup action View all posts

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