Davis Cup 2016: Murray, Del Potro, Tsonga and Cilic headline semis
Great Britain take on Argentina in the semi-finals of the 2016 Davis Cup in Glasgow later this month
It may still be deep into the US Open in New York, but the closing stages of the most famous team tennis competition, the Davis Cup, are also about get under way.
The semi-finals between Great Britain and Argentina in Glasgow, and between Croatia and France in Zadar, Croatia, bring together four of the current powerhouses on the circuit, with each team headlined by some of the best players in the world—three Grand Slam champions and one a Major finalist.
GB vs Argentina
Defending champion Great Britain will have world No2 Andy Murray in the line-up again after he sat on the sidelines during the quarter-finals in Serbia, and with good reason: the tie fell between winning the Wimbledon title and then taking Olympic gold in Rio.
Captain Leon Smith has also named two of the other British men who have shone in New York over the last week or so. Dan Evans, close to a career-high ranking of 64, has been playing some of the best tennis of his career this summer. He beat No27 seed Alexander Zverev and held match-point against No3 seed Stan Wawrinka before finally losing in the third round.
Kyle Edmund has been increasingly impressing fellow players with his power game, almost stole the rubber against David Goffin in the Davis Cup final in Belgium last November, and won both singles ties in that quarter-final against Serbia.
In New York, Edmund then reached the fourth round of a Major for the first time after beating No13 Richard Gasquet and No20 John Isner, but found the US Open defending champion Novak Djokovic a step too far.
On the doubles side, Jamie Murray, who is into the quarter-finals in New York, is again a key member of the squad, and Dom Inglot will be an option if brother Andy opts not to play doubles as well as two singles rubbers.
For looking at the Argentine opposition, those singles matches could be very tough indeed, with the return of the US Open 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, who is at last recapturing the form he had before three lots of wrist surgery.
It just so happens that, after giant-killing work at the Rio Olympics, beating Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, del Potro met Murray in the gold-medal match, losing in a closely-fought affair.
Del Potro is still only ranked 142, so Argentina’s top man is No43 Federico Delbonis, aided by No51 Guido Pella. Their nation, despite being one of the oldest members of the Davis Cup family, reaching 11 of the last 15 semi-finals, and reaching the final four times, has yet to lift the trophy.
Smith, talking to the LTA, was full of praise for his team: “It has been a great summer for the British players with Andy once again leading from the front, and the performances from the players at the US Open gives us a lot of momentum going into the tie. We are confident that we can do the job although we know we are up against an Argentina team with impressive strength in depth.
“Returning to Glasgow means a lot to all of the team. The venue is full of such positive memories for us all. And the support has been just incredible. I can’t wait to hear that again.”
Croatia vs France
The other semi-final tie is between one of the strongest tennis nations in the world, France, and one of the rising nations on the circuit, Croatia.
France’s squad boasts No11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a former Australian Open finalist, and No12 ranked Gael Monfils, both of whom, like Murray, are playing superb tennis on their way to the US Open’s quarter-finals. But captain Yannick Noah will also take their other quarter-finalist, the fast-rising No22 Lucas Pouille, and of course the squad boasts the No1 doubles team in the world, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
France have won the Cup nine times, most recently in 2001, and were runners-up in 2014. As usual, they are likely to be the team to beat. But opponents Croatia, headlined by recent Cincinnati champion and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, is a growing force.
Cilic is backed up by teenager Borna Coric, who has already done sterling service in Davis Cup, and Croatia too has some fine doubles exponents in Ivan Dodig and Marin Draganja.
Date: 16-18 September
Great Britain vs Argentina
Emirates Arena, Glasgow GB: hard indoor
Nominations GB: Andy Murray, Jamie Murray, Kyle Edmund, Dan Evans, Dom Inglot
Nominations Argentina: Federico Delbonis, Guido Pella, Leonardo Mayer, Juan Martin del Potro
Croatia vs France
Kresimir Cosic Hall, Zadar, Croatia: hard indoor
Nominations Croatia: Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Marin Draganja NB No Ivo Karlovic
Nominations France: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Lucas Pouille, Nicolas Mahut, Pierre-Hugues Herbert
World Group Play-offs
Winners to join the eight quarter-finalists from this year, GB, France, Argentina, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Czech Republic, USA, in next year’s World Group.
Uzbekistan vs Switzerland
Olympic Tennis School, Tashkent
Nominations Uzbekistan: Denis Istomin, Farrukh Dustov, Sanjar Fayziev, Jurabek Karimov
Nominations Switzerland: Henri Laaksonen, Adrien Bossel, Antoine Bellier, Johan Nikles NB no Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka
Australia vs Slovakia
Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, Sydney
Nominations Australia: Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth, John Peers
Nominations Slovakia: Martin Klizan, Lukas Lacko, Andrej Martin, Igor Zelenay
Russia vs Kazakhstan
National Tennis Centre, Moscow
Nominations Russia: Andrey Kuznetsov, Evgeny Donskoy, Konstantin Kravchuk, Andrey Rublev
Nominations Kazakhstan: Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev, Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Dmitry Popko
Germany vs Poland
Rot-Weiss Tennis Club, Berlin
Nominations Germany: Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer, Jan-Lennard Struff, Daniel Brands NB No Alexander Zverev
Nominations Poland: Kamil Majchrzak, Hubert Hurkacz, Lukasz Kubot, Marcin Matkowski NB No Jerzy Janowicz
Belgium vs Brazil
Sleuyter Arena, Ostend
Nominations Belgium: David Goffin, Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans, Joris de Loore
Nominations Brazil: Thomaz Bellucci, Thiago Monteiro, Marcelo Melo, Bruno Soares
Canada vs Chile
Scotiabank Centre, Halifax
Nominations Canada: Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic, Denis Shapovalov, Daniel Nestor NB No Milos Raonic
Nominations Chile: Gonzalo Lama, Christian Garin, Hans Podlipnik-Castillo, Nicolas Jarry
India vs Spain
R K Khanna Tennis Stadium, New Delhi
Nominations India: Saketh Myneni, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes
Nominations Spain: Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Marc Lopez
Japan vs Ukraine
Utsubo Tennis Centre, Osaka
Nominations Japan: Kei Nishikori, Yuichi Sugita, Yoshihito Nishioka, Taro Daniel
Nominations Ukraine: Illya Marchenko, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Artem Smirnov, Danylo Kalenichenk NB No Alexandr Dolgopolov