DAVIS CUP 2014
Murray Leads Britain's Davis Cup Bid
World Group, Quarter-finals
by ATP Staff|
ATPWorldTour.com previews the Davis Cup quarter-final ties, which take place from 4-6 April.
ITALY VS. GREAT BRITAIN
Venue: Tennis Club Napoli, Naples, Italy (clay - outdoor)
Italy goes into its quarter-final clash with Great Britain having won 10 of their past 11 meetings, however, this will be their first clash since 1984. The Italians, who travelled to Mar del Plata to upset Argentina in the first round, are looking to win the ITF men’s team competition for the first time since 1976. To reach the semi-finals, they will have to get past a British team led by Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who is expected to recover from a stomach bug in time for the singles matches Friday.
Fabio Fognini, who has had a career-best start to the season, opens proceedings against World No. 161 James Ward, who played a pivotal role in Britain’s first-round win over the United States by beating Sam Querrey. Murray then takes the court against Andreas Seppi, whom he leads 5-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, including a victory on clay in Rome four years ago.
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"It’s going to be a very difficult match," said Seppi. "He’s a great player. The last matches I played against him, I always lost so I have to do better. I have to try and play my best game, very aggressive and hopefully I can beat him."
It is not Murray’s first visit to the Tennis Club Napoli, but he didn’t realise until memories of a defeat in qualifying for a Challenger in March 2005 came flooding back when he arrived. The then-17-year-old Murray was beaten by Julio Silva, now 34 and ranked No. 898.
Twelve months on from undergoing chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma, Ross Hutchins makes his return to the Davis Cup fold and lines up in the doubles alongside Colin Fleming. They will take on Simone Bolelli and Paolo Lorenzi ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles.
"It feels amazing. It's one of the biggest weekends of our tennis career," said Hutchins. “I'm thrilled to be back with really good friends and great players, like Colin, Andy and James.
"[Italy is] a very strong team and one that we have to respect in a very big way. They've got two Top 30 players and Fognini has done superbly this year. All three days are up for grabs, but tough matches. We'll have to be on our top form. It's going to be a close one to call. We're feeling confident. We've got great morale and team spirit."
JAPAN VS. CZECH REPUBLIC
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan (hard - indoor)
Defending champion Czech Republic is spear-headed by its 2013 hero, Radek Stepanek, on a trip to Tokyo for the quarter-finals. Stepanek, who won the deciding fifth rubber against Serbia in the 2013 final, opens the tie against Tatsuma Ito and takes in 31-16 overall Davis Cup record. In the absence of Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol plays at No. 2 against Taro Daniel, who was included in the Japanese side after Kei Nishikori was forced to pull out with a groin strain.
Japan won a World Group match for the first time when it defeated Canada in February and will face the Czech Republic for the first time since 1935. In Saturday’s doubles, Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama take on Stepanek and the 2013 Emirates ATP Star of Tomorrow Jiri Vesely, who is set to play his third Davis Cup rubber.
"Coming into the tie it looked like we would be the underdogs, but now we are the favourites," Rosol said. "This can happen in Davis Cup, with people being injured or having to pull out. We think we will have the three points on Sunday."
Read Davis Cup Preview: Switzerland vs. Kazakhstan, France vs. Germany