"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
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!
Sun 23/06 21:07
Wimbledon full tournament picks: Djokovic vs. Nadal in final
Sun 23/06 16:17
Wimbledon draw analysis: Federer, Nadal in same quarter
Sun 16/06 16:45
Approach Shots: Players prep for Wimbledon
Sun 09/06 19:04
Approach Shots: Murray returns, Federer headlines Halle
Sat 25/05 16:47
2013 French Open picks: Nadal over Federer
Fri 24/05 20:38
French Open draw analysis: Djokovic, Nadal on same side
Thu 23/05 20:25
One-hit wonder list could grow at French Open
Sun 19/05 18:12
Approach Shots: Local flavor to French Open tune-ups
Mon 13/05 04:24
Approach Shots: All hands on deck for Rome Masters
Sun 05/05 05:51
Approach Shots: Federer back for Madrid title defense
Mon 29/04 19:09
Approach Shots: Relative calm before the clay-court storm
Mon 15/04 05:08
Approach Shots: Djokovic, Nadal headline Monte-Carlo Masters
Thu 04/04 22:02
Approach Shots: Djokovic headlines Davis Cup action View all posts
|1. Djokovic||12 500 pts|
|2. Murray||8 750 pts|
|3. Federer||8 670 pts|
|4. Ferrer||6 970 pts|
|5. Nadal||6 385 pts|
Scan QR code to access Unibet mobile.
Bet on Sports wherever you are and whenever you like, with Unibet's quick and simple mobile client you can place bets, check results and see live odds.
For more info about QR codes & scanners click here.