Murray Returns; Top 10 Stars Feature In Davis Cup
Six players in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings feature in 2016 Davis Cup World Group first round ties this week. ATPWorldTour.com previews the eight ties.
AUSTRALIA vs. UNITED STATES
Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, Melbourne, Australia
Twenty eight-time champion Australia takes on 32-time winner United States for the 46th time (20-25), but the first time since a 1999 World Group quarter-final when Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter led Australia to a 4-1 victory.
This week, Hewitt makes his debut as Australia's captain, having selected Bernard Tomic, in-form Nick Kyrgios, Sam Groth and John Peers. Jim Courier, the United States captain, who, like Hewitt, is a former World No. 1, has opted for John Isner, Jack Sock, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.
Courier said, "The crowd will be behind them. We are here to play whether it is as an underdog or not. None of that matters, which I wish it did. We have to go to battle and play. Lleyton is as competitive as anyone in our sport. I expect him to have his team ready to go and we will be in the same camp here. There is a great history between our nations of competing in the right way and shaking hands afterwards with good sportsmanship."
World No. 11 Isner, who has an 8-9 record in singles rubbers for the United States, admitted, "There is certainly pressure on every player that is competing this weekend and we know that. I don’t think there is any extra pressure on me by any means. I am preparing for the team that has been submitted. It can change come Thursday, but as of right now, I am prepared for all of them."
The Bryans have an all-time U.S. Davis Cup doubles team record of 23-4.
Looking forward to the tie, Bob Bryan said, "This will be John Peers’ first tie. He has had a great couple years and has played us tough in the past. We know a lot about him and he knows us well. He showed that he can play on grass by making the final at Wimbledon (w/J. Murray in 2015). We have played Groth, as well. He brings the big serve and it is tough to break. If that is the team they put out there, it will be a tough match — a break here or there or some tie-breaks."
GREAT BRITAIN vs. JAPAN
Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, Great Britain
Defending champion and 10-time titlist Great Britain takes on Japan for the first time since 1931. Great Britain, playing at home for the fourth time in its past five ties, is looking to secure its 150th victory in the international competition.
World No. 2 Andy Murray went 11-0 in Davis Cup rubbers in 2015, and has a stellar 27-2 record in singles rubbers. Playing for the first time since the Australian Open final and the birth of his daughter, Sofia, on 7 February, Murray is joined by Kyle Edmund, who has played one tie and risen to No. 83 in the Emirates ATP Rankings; his brother, No. 2-ranked doubles player and Australian Open champion, Jamie Murray; and Dominic Inglot.
World No. 6 Kei Nishikori leads Japan, holding a 1-6 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Murray. Nishikori has an 11-match winning streak in Davis Cup rubbers dating back to February 2012, when he lost to Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in three sets. Taro Daniel, Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama join Nishikori.
SERBIA vs. KAZAKHSTAN
Pionir Hall , Belgrade, Serbia
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic leads Serbia, the 2010 champion, having recovered from an eye infection that affected him during last week's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Djokovic is 27-7 overall in singles rubbers and unbeaten in 11 matches. World No. 23 Viktor Troicki, the Apia International Sydney champion in January, Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic also compete for Serbia.
Kazakhstan has reached the World Group quarter-finals for the past three years. The nation features Mikhail Kukushkin, Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Andrey Golubev and Dmitry Popko.
FRANCE vs. CANADA
Vélodrome Amédée Detraux, Guadeloupe, France
Nine-time champion France, under the stewardship of new captain Yannick Noah, fields a strong line-up featuring four Top 20 players, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon. France beat Canada 4-1 in Vancouver in 2012.
Milos Raonic remains sidelined due to an adductor tear suffered in the Australian Open semi-finals, while Daniel Nestor misses only his second tie in 15 years. Canada's captain Martin Laurendeau is currently training in Guadeloupe with Philip Bester, Frank Dancevic, Vasek Pospisil and Adil Shamasdin.
GERMANY vs. CZECH REPUBLIC
TUI Arena, Hannover, Germany
Three-time champion Germany takes on three-time winner Czech Republic for the 15th time, with the two nations' last clash coming in 2005.
World No. 7 Berdych is two match wins away (48-16) from recording his 50th victory for the Czech Republic, which includes Lukas Rosol, Jiri Vesely and Radek Stepanek. Kohlschreiber leads Michael Kohlmann's German team, which also includes teenager Alexander Zverev, Dustin Brown and Philipp Petzschner.
“I think it’s great that the top guys play Davis Cup,” Kohlschreiber told the official website. “We are not counting on winning this point [against Berdych]. I think we are very strong in the No. 1 and No. 2 position to play hopefully great matches against their No. 2.”
Vesely told the official website, "Germany has a strong team. [Philipp] Kohlscreiber, [Alexander] Zverev is coming up pretty strong in the last few weeks, so it will definitely be a very tough match, but still I do believe that we have a very strong team to be competitive to have a good chance to win that tie.”
ITALY vs. SWITZERLAND
Adriatic Arena, Pesaro, Italy
Italy, the 1976 titlist, and 2014 champion Switzerland square off for the seventh time. Switzerland defeated Italy in the semi-finals two years ago.
World No. 40 Andreas Seppi is the highest ranked and most experienced player competing in the tie, alongside fellow Italians Paolo Lorenzi, Simone Bolelli and Marco Cecchinato. Swiss captain Severin Luthi has Marco Chiudinelli, Henri Laaksonen, Adrien Bossel and Antoine Bellier at his disposal.
BELGIUM vs. CROATIA
Country Hall du Sart-Tilman, Liège, Belgium
Last year's finalist Belgium meets 2005 champion Croatia for the first time since 2004.
David Goffin, with a 12-3 singles record for Belgium, will go head-to-head against Croatia's No. 1, World No. 12 Marin Cilic, unbeaten in six singles rubbers. Goffin is joined by Kimmer Coppejans, Rubens Bemelmans, Arthur de Greef, while Cilic plays alongside Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig and Marin Draganja.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a very interesting tie,” said Coric. “I’m really looking forward to the Davis Cup because I love spending the week with the guys and I think that it’s a great competition. We’re going to have fun but we’re also going to work very hard. I think it’s a good match for us.”
POLAND vs. ARGENTINA
Ergo Arena, Gdansk, Poland
Former World No. 14 Jerzy Janowicz leads Poland against Argentina, the four-time finalist and World Group nation for the past 15 years. Leonardo Mayer went 6-0 in rubbers last year leading Argentina into the semi-finals (l. to Belgium).
Janowicz plays alongside Kamil Majchrzak, Lukasz Kubot, Marcin Matkowski, while Mayer is joined by Guido Pella, Carlos Berlocq and Renzo Olivo.