Sunday, February 17, 2008

Davis Cup Round-Up

A week late with this, however, it's worth mentioning that the first round of the Davis Cup is history.

The defending champs, the USA, took on Austria in Vienna and won easily. All the guys who have played so faithfully for seven years showed up. Kudos to Blake, Roddick and the Bryans for making the trip so quickly after the Australian Open. You didn't see Nadal or Federer in action, did you? Nope. A match on clay in Austria was actually dangerous and one we could have lost. For once, they played well on clay. You have to think the team is playing with a lot of confidence right now.

The Yanks take on France in the next round. This will be a blockbuster between two traditional Davis Cup powers. The French boast one of the world's best doubles teams, Arnaud Clement and Michael Llorda, and top singles players Richard Gasquet, Jo Tsonga and Sebastian Grosjean. They easily defeated the Romanians.

Speaking of traditional powers, it seems strange not to see Australia in the World Group this year. This marks just the second time Australia was relegated to zonal play. Australia has won the Cup 28 times, second only to the US (32 titles).

Russia hasn't lost in Moscow since Pete Sampras beat them singlehandedly to win the 1996 Davis Cup. The streak held, as the Ruskis beat a flu-decimated Serbian team that should have been a threat to win this year's cup. But Joker missed the opening singles match with stomach flu, as did Tispsarevich. That left doubles specialist Nenad Z and a player I never heard of playing singles on the opening day. The player I never heard of, Troiki, almost came through, losing a five-set epic. Joker played and won the doubles and made it halfway through the second singles day before having to quit and go to the hospital. The Serbs managed enhance their reputation even in defeat.

Span dominated Peru but promised to help Peru build tennis courts. The country is still recovering from an August 2007 earthquake. The Spanish Federation is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.

Sweden narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of the Israelis, who put on a show for the home crowd in a hotly contested 3-2 loss. Good for Erlich & Ram, the doubles champions in Australia, for making it competitive.

Sweden faces Argentina in the next round, in South America. This one should be interesting.

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