So, in the complete absence of anything better to talk about today, due to us beign in that lull period after a Slam before tennis gets interesting again, I thought I might do a bit of a Davis Cup preview. That should keep me out of trouble/off the streets, etc etc.
So, semi final #1 - Croatia vs. Czech Republic. This is a team basically consisting of Cilic and Karlovic against Berdych and Stepanek.
This is an interesting matchup. I'm leaning towards the Czechs in the doubles, purely because they have Lukas Dlouhy, but doubles is not my area of expertise so I'm just going to talk about the singles. There are some very interesting match ups, because all four of these players are capable of beating just about anyone if they run hot.
Cilic is the most recent to demonstrate this, beating Andy Murray in straight sets at the US Open and then getting off to a flier against eventual champ JMDP before crumbling in a heap. If he can, you know, not crumble, I think he'll win both his singles matches. I think Stepanek will give him more trouble than Berdych, because Berdych has done pretty much fat nothing this year, whereas Stepanek has done some, like, good stuff and whatnot, but I think Cilic is the most talented of the four players out there and, meltdown aside, I think he'll bring home the bacon for Croatia.
I'm unsure whether Karlovic will be a great second banana or whether he'll be a liability. He's a strange way, Dr Ivo - that huge serve can beat just about anyone, but if they find a way around that, he's pretty much screwed. I can see Stepanek figuring him out pretty early on... Berdych maybe not so much. He might do the figuring, but I can't see him delivering.
So in summation, I think Croatia will come away 3-1 in the singles, their one loss being Karlovic to Stepanek. This will put them back in the final, where they will face...
...the winner of semi final #2, Spain vs Israel. And look, I know Israel are the underdogs and people like supporting the underdogs, but if Spain lose this tie, I will eat my sofa. They are missing their best Davis Cup dudes, Nadal and Verdasco, but the depth that Spain presents is so ridiculous I can't see them losing. Then again, I didn't see Russia losing to Israel either, but I doubt the Spaniards will be quite as fragile.
I give Israel a very decent shot in the doubles. Erlich and Ram are a first rate team. But I really can't see either Dudi Sela or Harel Levy coming through the Mosquito, Juan Carlos Ferrero, who has been playing pretty damn good of late. The other singles player, David Ferrer, has occasionally proved to be a bit shaky, but I'd be a bit surprised if he took any major losses here. And even if he did, Feliciano Lopez and Tommy Robredo are both excellent players - actually, I wouldn't be surprised to see Robredo playing singles at all. Spain have options. I don't think Israel really have that luxury.
I think Spain's going to go 4-0 on singles here, whoever plays. Israel might win the doubles, but if Spain lose this tie, I will be very surprised.
So let the games begin. And let me be proven wrong.
Oh, and hopp Suisse!
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