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This weekend, one of my favourite Team Sporting Events in the world takes place. It remains one of the great unaltered sports events.
The Davis Cup Semi Finals will be held in Madrid and Buenos Aires.
The top Semi Final will be held on the Argentine clay court, and the Semi Final will be very tough for the Russians. The Argentines have selected David Nalbandian and Juan Martin Del Potro for the Singles, ranked 6 and 13 in the world. The Russians have team problems however. Nikolai Davydenko is out injured, and Marat Safin would rather compete in the Thailand Open. This leaves Russia with Igor Andreev, ranked 19 in the world, but pushed Federer to five sets in the US Open recently, and also Dmitry Tursunov, ranked 26 in the world. The Argentines must now be favourites for the tie, played on the favourite surface of the home players, against weaker oppositon. That said, there have been complaints about court conditions, but the fact that it's played on clay must surely favour the Argentines.
The bottom Semi Final pits Spain against the defending champions, United States, in the other Semi Final. Spain have home advantage, which means playing on a clay court to suit Nadal, who must surely win his two Singles'. He is joined by David Ferrer, the world number 5, and they have the luxury of the number 15, Fernando Verdasco and number 27, Feliciano Lopez, in place for the Doubles. The United States then need to beat Ferrer twice and win the Doubles. This is a problem. Bob Bryan is injured, and is replaced by Mardy Fish, who will partner Mike Bryan. James Blake withdrew from the squad citing fatigue, which I find ridiculous, considering Raphael Nadal, who has had many more matches than Blake, is happy to play for Spain. As a result, the United States turn to Sam Querrey, the world number 42, who has never played Davis Cup before. The Spanish are clear favourites to win.
Elsewhere in Davis Cup, the World Group playoffs are played on the same weekend.
Australia will be led by Leyton Hewitt as they travel to Chile. Andy Murray will return to Davis Cup as the spearhead of the Great Britain team, and is set to play both Singles and Doubles against Austria, in a match played at Wimbledon. Roger Federer has returned to the Swiss team, and has committed to playing for them in the future. He partners Sebastien Wawrinka against the Belgians, and look set to return to the World Group. Croatia should beat Brazil at home. Israel and Peru are not the strongest nations in action, and nor are Netherlands against the South Koreans, or Romania against India. Slovakia will play Serbia, for whom Novak Djokovic will try to lead them into the World Group. It's worth noting that Djokovic will also be playing in Thailand, the tournament Safin is preferring to the Davis Cup.
I'm looking forward to it, and I'm unimpressed with Blake and Safin. The one thing that slightly ruins the Davis Cup is the lack of guarantee that the top players compete. It's such a shame, because it's a great competition. For players who couldn't wait to play at the Olympics for their countries, they seem very hesitant to do something other than play Davis Cup sometimes.