davis cup: swiss take on italy, czech take on france while usa fights slovakia for next year

It’s Davis Cup weekend and the USA is taking on Slovakia to ensure a spot in the 2015 Davis Cup tournament. Captain Jim Courier has selected John Isner, the top ranked US player who was the last player to exit the US Open 2014.  Sam Querrey, who recently defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to reach the semi’s at  Winston-Salem for the third year in a row only to be defeated by Jerzy Janowicz and they are both joined by tennis twins  Mike and Bob Bryan, who are widely considered to be the best men’s doubles team of all time. The Bryans bros won the US Open 2014 which marked their 16th Grand Slam win and 100th title.

The USA hopes to uphold their unbeaten record versus Slovakia but their last victories already dated from the 2002 and 2003 season.  The 2014 US Davis Cup team shows parallels with the 2003 when the team took on Slovakia at the same stage in Bratislava and beat the Slovaks with an epic 3-2 victory. In order for the USA to compete in the Davis Cup 2015 they must beat Slovakia this coming weekend.

If Slovakia wins then they will be the ones who will compete in the 2015 Davis Cup.  The Slovakia Davis Cup team is captained by Miloslav Mecir and features Martin Klizan, Lukas Lacko, Norbert Gombos and Michal Mertinak.

Meanwhile Roger Federer leads Swiss’ Davis Cup challenge as they take on Italy in the semi’s of the tournament. Swiss is captained by Severin Luthi and the team consists of Roger Federer, winner of 17 Grand Slam tournaments, Stanislas Wawrinka, winner of the Australian Open 2014 and is completed by Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.  The Italian team consists of Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini.

Federer considers Swiss to be the favorite in this encounter.

“We obviously are favorites,” the third-ranked Federer said. “We have a formidable team. We are playing at home and we chose the surface. We can do it.”

Swiss captain told the press that having Federer and Wawrinka with the team has greatly improved the preparation for the upcoming weekend.

“We could train together as soon as Tuesday, which was not the case in our opening two rounds,” Luthi said, referring to the tight 3-2 wins over Serbia and Kazakhstan.

If the Swiss win they will take on the winner of the match between France and the Czech Republic.

France takes on the Czech Republic who have proved themselves to be great cupfighters as they have won the Davis Cup twice in a row.  France’ team consists of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils, both players who are currently in top form. Tsonga recently won the Rogers Cup in Toronto while Gael Monfils reached the fourth round of the US Open 2014 where he lost to Federer in an epic five set match where he failed to convert two match points.

France coach Arnaud Clement called the Czech team “the best team in the world” and is looking try to stop the impressive winning streak of the Czechs.

“This is the best team in the world,” France captain Arnaud Clement said of the Czechs. “One can’t win the Davis Cup twice in a row by chance. We’ll be trying to put their amazing run to an end.”

The Czech team consists of Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych and is completed by Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely.

Stepanek is looking forward to playing at Roland Garros and even more so when he found out that Roland Garros was originally built to host Davis Cup matches.

“It’s special when you come here for a Grand Slam tournament and it’s definitely even more special for us to play here and play for our country. It’s even more special to play here in the semifinals.”

Make your predictions for the upcoming Davis Cup weekend matches and check if it is a good bet with the best tennis betting online sites.

trophy watch: open sud de france, pbz zagreb indoors, vtr open

This past week week, the women and the men swapped spots for world team play; with the ladies competing in their first Fed Cup ties of the season and the men duking it out for titles at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, and at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

Marin Cilic - PBZ Zagreb Indoors 2013

Top seed and local Marin Cilic won his third PBZ Zagreb Indoors title after defeating Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Cilic also won this title in 2009 and 2010. Melzer is looking for an uptick on his win-loss record for 2013 so far, which has seen upsets to lower-ranked players and upsets against Tomas Berdych in Melbourne and Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane.

Melzer, on his loss to Cilic:

“He was the better player today. I needed it to be close at 4-all, 5-all in the first set to give me confidence. That didn’t happen and he ran away with it. I felt like I was hitting the ball really well at the beginning, but he hit the ball even better. What made the difference in the first few games is that he had free points on serve, whereas I had to work for them: hit a winner or play well so he missed. He deserved the victory.”

More: Trophies from France (our pick of the week!) and Chile, plus the Fed Cup ties — after the cut…

roland garros bracketology: the fellas

By Christopher Phillips

[Ed note: Chris Phillips, part of TSF West, files his thoughts on who's hot, who's not and who might just make a run at this year's Roland Garros. -NEM]

With the men’s and women’s most significant clay court tournaments just completed and a handful of players getting their last bit of match time in this week, let’s take a look at some of the contenders for the 2011 French Open.  I’ve listed my top 10 favorites below in my own rank order as well as some other players to watch who’ve had notable achievements this year or in the past.

Rafael Nadal | While the tennis talk of the town has definitely been focused on Djokovic the past five months, I still believe this title is Nadal’s to lose. Djokovic has beaten Nadal four times this year with his last two on clay, but beating Rafa three out of five sets is much tougher of a challenge than beating him two out of three.  If anyone can do it though, Nole’s your man. Result: Champ (d. Djokovic in five-set final)

Novak Djokovic | I think at some point “streak pressure” has got to get to him.  Once people start asking how long can you keep it going is usually about when it stops, especially when it becomes the only question (in 20 different forms) in the media room. I detected a bit of panic on his face when he was two points away from losing to Andy Murray in the Rome SFs.  If you’re looking for more reasons he won’t beat Rafa, Nole lost to Jurgen Melzer last year in the QFs after holding a two-set lead.  Additionally — and one of the reasons why I think Murray was as successful against Novak as he was in Rome — is that nobody on the tour expects to beat this guy right now, giving them an increased ability to feel like they can swing away at their shots.  That being said, anything less than a trip to the final for Djoko would have to qualify as the biggest upset (for whoever snacks on him) of the year so far. Result: Runner-up

Roger Federer | As the oldest of the top three, the great one is past his prime … but this doesn’t mean another major (or two or three) are beyond him. But I just don’t see it happening here, nor do I see him as the victim of an upset.  He’s played eight tournaments this year winning one (Doha) and losing five to either Nadal or Djokovic.  What should be most troubling for Roger however is his straight-set loss to Melzer in the Monte Carlo QFs and losing two tiebreaks to Richard “Baby Federer” Gasquet in the third round at Rome. Result: Quarterfinals

Andy Murray | Murray’s year has been up and down, but the most encouraging thing for him going into the next two weeks should be the fact — not that he’s 13-7 on the year — but that he’s 7-3 on clay with two of those three-set losses to Nadal and Djokovic, respectively.  Hopefully these semifinal runs in Monte Carlo and Rome will give him the encouragement he needs to turn his game around for the year. More: Will Andy be OK despite his ‘injury?’ Result: Semifinals

David Ferrer | Ferrer is 15-3 (Update: DF upset by Alexandr Dolgopolov in Nice) on clay this year with his losses coming solely to … Nadal and Djokovic.  He’s had wins on the dirt over Melzer (twice), Nicolas Almagro (twice), Serb Victor Troicki, Jaun Monaco and Feliciano Lopez.  It’s going to take one of the big four to take him down. Result: Semifinals

Robin Soderling | Soderling’s made the past two finals at Roland Garros, but given his play this year, it’s difficult to see him going for a three-peat. He’s won three hard court titles (Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille) but has gone 5-4 on clay with his deepest run to quarterfinals in Rome, Madrid and Estoril.  Three of those losses were to Djokovic (losing most recently 3 & 0), Federer and Del Potro … but the other was to Ivan Dodig.  He also struggled against Almagro, Fernando Verdasco and Jeremy Chardy.  If any of the top eight are ripe for an early upset, it’s the Swede. Result: Quarterfinals

Scalp man: Soderling has had big wins the last two years. Don’t expect him to make it three in a row.

Tomas Berdych | Berdych made it to the SFs here last year, but hasn’t won a title in over two years. His record on the dirt this year is 5-3 with his most significant wins over Monaco (twice), falling at or before the QFs in all three events. His record going into Roland Garros last year wasn’t entirely dissimilar, but it’s hard to see him reaching the SFs again. Result: Quarterfinals

Nicolas Almagro | Many have considered Almagro to be the Spanish clay court successor to Nadal, but he’s yet to live up to any of that hype.  He’s 20-4 on clay this year with two South American titles (Buenos Aires and Costa Do Sauipe) with wins over Sam Querrey, Juan-Ignacio Chela (twice), Tommy Robredo, Nikolay Davydenko, Ferrero and Jose Acasuso. His clay success has helped him crack the top ten for the first time in his career. In seven trips to Paris, he’s lost to top 10 players on five of those occasions and twice been a quarterfinalist. The real question seems to be: Can Almagro finally break through to his predicted potential? Result: Quarterfinals

Richard Gasquet | While he’s 4-7 lifetime at Roland Garros (yep! You read that right.), four of those losses have been to top ten players (Murray last year after leading two-sets-to-none, Nadal and David Nalbandian (twice) and a fifth to eventual champ Albert Costa in 2002 (Right, we forgot about Albie, too).  So far this year on the dirt, Richard is 8-4 with three losses to top 10 players (Nadal twice and countryman Gael Monfils).  His play in Rome (with victories over Federer and Berdych) was inspiring and should serve him well in Paris. But will the home crowd be too much once again? Result: Third round

Stanislas Wawrinka | He’s 10-6 at Roland Garros, but — similar to Gasquet — three of those losses were to top ten players (Federer, Ivan Ljubicic and Nalbandian) and the other three losses were to future top ten players (Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez) and eventual 2002 finalist (the now-forgotten Mariano Puerta).  Even though his 7-5 clay court record this year leaves plenty to be desired, needless to say it takes a considerable player to take out the second-highest Swiss player in Paris. Result: Third round

For a list of other players to watch, click to keep reading. [Read more...]

for the spring, lacoste does us a solid

No frills: The men of Lacoste are dressed in simple, solid colors for their clay runs. At this week’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Milos Raonic won the second-round battle of the messy ‘dos between him and Ernests Gulbis and next faces the winner of Feli/Ferrer; that’s all in the same quarter as Verdasco (and the same half as Federer). On the other side, Gasquet faces GG Lopez and a potentially third-rounder against top seed Nadal. (Draw: Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters)

Buy: Lacoste Short Sleeve Outlined Croc Pique Polo, $85, lacoste.com.

(images via Getty Images)

nic’s six: author nic brown provides observations from this year’s uso

As the US Open winds down, we wanted to corral author Nic Brown into throwing over a few of his thoughts the TSF way. We asked the Doubles novelist to send us a list of five things from the last 10 days and he came back with one extra in “Nic’s six”. The guy has a way with words, no? If you didn’t notice, Nic’s good friend and former ATP doubles expert Tripp Phillips was featured as a recruiter on the Straight Sets tennis blog. -NM

1. The Serbian (Fashion) Equation
Exhibit A: In the past, the cast in the Novak Djokovic box have simultaneously removed their shirts in celebration.
Exhibit B: During Djokovic’s fourth round match against Mardy Fish, his father wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with a huge airbrush-type image of his son.
Exhibit C: Djokovic’s new wardrobe is decorated with dragons seemingly inspired by Ed Hardy.

Closing argument: I do not know much about Serbia, let alone Serbian fashion. But I do know quite a bit about the sun-burnt population of the Carolina coastal region. Hence, I think during this Slam, I have, for the first time ever, uncovered a direct cultural parallel between monster truck fans in Myrtle Beach and Djokovic supporters in Belgrade.

2. Wheel Me It Isn’t So
The Dostoevsky tattoos, the on-court glasses, the beard: Janko Tipsarvic is clearly rad. I have always loved this guy. But when he trotted out on court to play Andy Roddick wheeling behind him a giant tennis bag on wheels, he shot into the stratosphere for me. I guess he’s already been sporting this thing for a few weeks this summer, but this was the first I saw of it. He clearly doesn’t give a damn about toeing the traditional tennis line, and I love him for it. On a more complicated note, he has confounded my previous theories about Serbian fashion. There is definitely no one in Myrtle Beach who looks like Janko.

3. Spraying Balls as Performance Art
In the first seven points of Feliciano Lopez’s round of sixteen match against Rafael Nadal Tuesday night, Lopez sprayed three balls into the stands off miss-hits. I don’t takes cuts like Lopez does, and I’m not playing Nadal in post-Earl wind gusts, but still – if I lose one ball a set I’m embarrassed. Also, I’m not in the top twenty-five. I’ve never seen anything like it. It immediately erased any consideration I had that it was going to be a good match. And it wasn’t. More interesting, though, is the fact that I just learned Lopez plays himself on a Spanish sitcom. Very performance art of him. Perhaps that’s what was going on with the stray balls, too?

4. Back, And Looking Fabulous
Everyone seemed to think Roger Federer’s Wimbledon back injury was caused by some infection of sour grapes, but I had some inside sources who told me it was quite serious. I still thought it was sour grapes. But I now have to say I think he really was injured in England, because he’s moving so well again and looks better than he even did in Australia. If Nadal can’t pick up his return game by Sunday, and if Federer gets past Djokovic in the semis, Federer might actually win a grand slam final against him for the first time in three years.

Sign language and shoe-tastrophes to finish off Nic’s list. [Read more...]

shoulder powder, be gone!

gasquet-shoulder-powder

Guilty or not, Richard Gasquet will have to shoulder the burden of his bizarre cocaine-positive test from this year for a long, long time. Leave it to his countrymen and their dry, quirky humor to make sure the former Top 10 player won’t forget such a thing in the near future.

TSF contributor Troy Venechanos sent me this video for my viewing pleasure and I had to share. Watch the hilarious faux commercial “Coke en Shoulders” after the jump. [Read more...]

david ferrer is a dirty, dirty pirate

David Ferrer defeated Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Shanghai Masters. He’ll next face compatriot Feliciano Lopez, and have a so-so Juan Martin del Potro as a potential third-round match-up. If he makes it through, Tsonga will likely be his quarterfinal opponent. Draw here.

Gold: Ferrer is wearing pieces from Lotto‘s Shock collection, this time in black and gold. He also wore this at the 2009 U.S. Open.

More: A few more pics of David after the cut…

party in kuala lumpur

men-malaysia09a

What a motley crew, these guys. Snowman Richard Gasquet, the unsportsmanlike Robin Soderling, gambler Nikolay Davydenko, and casanova Fernando Verdasco — all in batik shirts at an event for the Proton Malaysia Open, happening this week in Kuala Lumpur.

Leave it to Verdasco to add Spanish flair to the traditional Malaysian attire by tucking it into his jeans. We didn’t expect anything less from the fashionista.

Bracket: After first-round byes, Kolya faces Dent, Verdasco will play Karol Beck, and Soderling is up against qualifier Brendan Evans (who played fellow qualifier/American Michael Yani in the first round). Gasquet is still slated for a first rounder against Romanian Victor Crivoi.

(image via PMO)

hmm, kolya — is that “flour” in your pastry?

nikolay-davydenko-estoril09a

Powder took some time out during this week’s Estoril Open to learn about a world-famous Portuguese cake: the Pasteis de Nata. Sabine Lisicki joined him for the tutorial.

Watch: Check out the video here.

Scoreline: Currently ranked 11th in the world (oh, how the mighty have fallen!), Davydenko entered the combined tournament as the second seed. He was upset by James Blake 7-6 (3), 6-7 (2), 3-6 in the semis.

And speaking of white powder, Frenchman Richard Gasquet has now confirmed an initial report by L’Equipe that he tested positive for cocaine during a routine drug test at the Sony Ericsson Open in March. He claims innocence and has begun compiling evidence to prove this to the ITF and the World Doping Agency.

We’re hoping he’s innocent and that the case gets dropped; two years of Gasquet-less tennis would just be too much to handle.

(screengrab from ATP)

tattoo watch: bolelli’s twofer

FYI, Simone Bolelli got his left forearm marked up (to go along with another new tattoo and his long-standing “S“).

Unconfirmed post at MTF says it’s his girlfriend’s name. Can anyone back it up?

Scoreline: At this week’s Barclays Dubai Championships in Dubai, Simone lost in straight sets to Richard Gasquet in the second round.

(images via Getty Images)

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