Davis Cup 2015: Murray, Simon, Kyrgios, Troicki, Goffin headline chase for SFs
Marianne Bevis looks ahead to the Davis Cup quarter-finals, with Great Britain set to take on France at Queen's Club
The players who will attempt to carry their nations to semi-final places in this year’s Davis Cup have been revealed, with young stars Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis the first to confirm their places as the sun hit Australia.
But one of the joys of this world-wide team competition that began its story in 1900, is not just the opportunity for a heavy dose of patriotic fervour to flood a sport usually focused on individuals, but that whatever the time of day or night, there is sure to be a match to follow.
Twelve hours after hot, dry Darwin, nestled on the Timor Sea of Australia’s Northern Territory, revealed who would line up against Kazakhstan, it was the turn of the temperate Belgian coast to reveal the home nation’s line-up against Canada. And with just an hour’s adjustment of the clock, London hosted the next draw for the highly-anticipated match-up between two nations who have won this trophy nine times apiece, Great Britain and France.
Four hours later, in a considerably less balmy Argentina, the tennis headed indoors in cool Buenos Aires as the home nation listed a team minus its star attraction of Juan Martin del Potro, and facing a similarly deprived Serbia without their world No1 and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic.
All along the way, following the rising of the sun, were more nations preparing for their push to join the elite World Group: New Zealand and India, Uzbekistan and the Korean Republic, Poland and Ukraine, Netherlands and Austria, Russia and Spain.
For that last tie shows just how quickly the status of a nation can change. Spain has tennis riches beyond most countries’ comprehension—Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer backed by top-30 talents Feliciano Lopez, Roberto Bautista Agut, and the only man playing this indoor tie in Russia, Tommy Robredo. Since 2000, this squad has won the Davis Cup five times from seven finals, but with its top men taking breaks at the same time, Spain slipped from the World Group for the first time in 20 years.
But for now, the primary focus remains on the eight with 2015 Cup glory in mind, and there is no doubting where the heavyweights are packed. The Great Britain and France tie boasts the four highest-ranked men across the weekend. Indeed only Serbia, with No20 Viktor Troicki, and Belgium with No14 David Goffin, have any players in the top 20.
Meanwhile, two Wimbledon semi-finalists, No3 Andy Murray and No13 Richard Gasquet bring strong grass runs to Queen’s grass courts, ably backed by Wimbledon doubles finalist Jamie Murray, singles quarter-finalist No11 Gilles Simon and Queen’s doubles winner (and singles winner at s-Hertogenbosch) Nicolas Mahut.
It is, then, a tie to make the mouth water, and one set to run to Sunday’s conclusion—a riot of red and blue and unprecedented noise in the heart of gentile Kensington.
The runners and riders
(Times shown are local)
Australia (9) vs Kazakhstan (12)
Marrara Sporting Complex, Darwin: outdoor grass
• Australia has won the trophy 28 times but Kazakhstan reached the quarter-finals four times in five years after joining the competition in 1995 and advancing to the World Group in 2011.
• The two nations meet for the first time.
• Lleyton Hewitt, playing the doubles rubber, is one of the Davis Cup’s most prolific participants, with 75 rubbers through 17 years.
• Winners next play GB or France.
R1 Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Mikhail Kukushkin
R2 Nick Kyrgios vs Aleksandr Nedovyesov
R3 Sam Groth/Lleyton Hewitt vs Andrey Golubev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov
R4 Nick Kyrgios vs Mikhail Kukushkin
R5 Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Aleksandr Nedovyesov
Belgium (13) vs Canada (7)
Sportpark Krokodiel, Middelkerke (Ostend): outdoor clay
• Canada reached the semis in 2013, 100 years after their only other semi finish.
• The teams meet for the first time since that 1913 run, with Canada leading their head-to-head 4-0.
• Belgium reached its only final in 1904.
• Canada plays with a depleted squad missing Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil both injured. Filip Peliwo, winner of junior titles at both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2012, thus makes his Davis Cup debut.
• Winners next play Argentina or Serbia.
R1 Steve Darcis vs Frank Dancevic
R2 David Goffin vs Filip Peliwo
R3 Ruben Bemelmans/Kimmer Coppejans vs Daniel Nestor/Adil Shamasdin
R4 David Goffin vs Frank Dancevic
R5 Steve Darcis vs Filip Peliwo
Great Britain (10) vs France (3)
Queen’s Club, London: outdoor grass
• France is nine-time champion and runner-up last year in its 17th final.
• GB has been champion nine times, most recently 1936 and is the only nation to compete in all Davis Cups since 1900.
• GB’s last title was in 1936, headed by Fred Perry and Bunny Austin.
• GB and France, each with nine titles, face off for the 21st time, the first since 1992.
• France has reached quarter-finals for 14th time in 15 seasons.
• GB aims to reach semi-finals for first time since 1981.
• Winners play Australia or Kazakhstan.
R1 Gilles Simon vs James Ward
R2 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Andy Murray
R3 Jamie Murray/Dom Inglot vs Richard Gasquet/Nicolas Mahut
R4 Gilles Simon vs Andy Murray
R5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs James Ward
Argentina (5) vs Serbia (4)
Tecnopolis, Buenos Aires: indoor clay
• Argentina’s four runners-up tally is the most without winning the title.
• Teams last met in the semi-finals in 2011, Argentina winning 3-2.
• Argentina play without top two men, Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco, both injured.
• Serbia plays without Novak Djokovic and former top-10 Janko Tipsarevic, who is replaced by Filip Krajinovic.
• Argentina, playing at the same venue against Brazil in the first round, recorded the longest ever singles rubber, Leonardo Mayer beating Joao Souza 7-6, 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, 15-13.
• Winners next play Canada or Belgium.
Leonardo Mayer vs Filip Krajinovic
Federico Delbonis vs Viktor Troicki
Carlos Berlocq/Diego Schwartzman vs Dusan Lajovic/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)
Leonardo Mayer vs Viktor Troicki
Federico Delbonis vs Filip Krajinovic