So the Davis Cup draw has been announced - and trust me, I am all over this tournament, being as it is pretty much the last real tennis we will see until the cashcow exhibitions start in January. First up we will have Nadal and Berdych (a match which you have to like Rafa to win, even if Shmafa is the dude that shows up) followed by Stepanek and Ferrer.
Now this is interesting. I thought for sure that the Spaniards would play Verdasco, at least in the first singles match ups. But no. Apparently not.
Ferrer is definitely not a slouch. This we know. But he hasn't exactly been captain of the in form squad either, and Stepanek has had an excellent, excellent year. If the Spaniards are going to lose one match, it's going to be this one, I think. So why, I asked myself, play Ferrer when Verdasco would stand an excellent chance?
But then I thought about it. Better to cede this one rubber - and it's totally not even ceding, because Ferru isn't exactly going to roll over and die - than risk Verdasco playing three matches and then being totally knackered by the time the reverse singles come around. The lineup says that the Czechs are playing Dlouhy and Hajek in the doubles - but even if they swap them out and put Berdych and Stepanek in, they'll come up against a fighting fit Lopez and Verdasco combination. And if the tie is still live going into the third day - let's say that Ferrer loses to Stepanek - then Rafa and Nando between them are surely going to be able to pick up that third point.
This whole scheme does rely on Rafa - if he has to retire injured or something, then Spain are... well, not dead in the water, but let's say that they got left off the lifeboat and the Titanic is sinking. They've just given themselves the best possible chance to win the doubles by ensuring that Verdasco is fresh, and if Rafa can claim those extra two points... bam, Davis Cup is coming home to Spain. But if Rafa's injured and Berdych gets that point tomorrow... well then, there's one dude who is going to have to step up to the plate in a big way and that is David Ferrer. Verdasco as well, don't get me wrong - if there's a live reverse singles rubber and Rafa's out, you can bet it'll be Nando they chuck in - but if Rafa is removed from the equation, then David's throwaway point suddenly becomes vital.
I'm being a bit of a doomcrow re Rafa here, but it is a realistic possibility. And you know what? even if Rafa stays uninjured, I want Ferru to step up. He was the one guy that lost in the Davis Cup final against Argentina last year, necessitating Verdasco's win over Acasuso. So it'd be nice for him to get a point, get some glory.
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago