|Posted on September 17, 2009 at 4:18 PM|
From left, members of Czech Republic Davis Cup team,:
captain Jaroslav Navratil, Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych,
Jan Hajek and Lukas Dlouhy attend the draw for their Davis Cup semi-finals
against Croatia's Team in Porec, Croatia, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009. (APPhoto)
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas
Davis Cup SF Preview: Croatia vs Czech Republic
by ATP Staff | 17.09.2009
Croatia and Czech Republic will contest a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group semi-final tie from 18-20 September. Croatia, appearing in its first semi-final since lifting the 2005 title, and Czech Republic will meet for the first time in the Davis Cup. Croatia, promoted from the Euro/African Group I last year, has won 11 of its past 12 home ties.
Czech Republic is in the World Group semi-finals for the first time since 1996, when it lost to Sweden 4-1. Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek have an unbeaten record as a doubles pairing.
ATPWorldTour.com takes a look at the players involved.
CROATIA vs CZECH REPUBLIC
Sportska dvorana ''ZATIKA'', Porec, Croatia
Clay - Indoors
CROATIA (23-14 ties record, 1993 first year played)
Marin Cilic (7-6 Davis Cup record, 5-4 in singles)
The 20-year-old right-hander made his Davis Cup debut versus Austria in February 2006. This year he led Croatia to victories over Chile and the United States. The top-ranked Croat captured ATP World Tour titles at the Aircel Chennai Open (d. Devvarman) and PBZ Zagreb Indoors (d. Ancic) in the first two months of the 2009 ATP World Tour season. He advanced to the Roland Garros fourth round for the first time (l. to Murray) and the third round at Wimbledon (l. to Haas, 10-8 in fifth set). At the US Open he beat Andy Murray en route to his first Grand Slam quarter-final (l. to eventual champion del Potro), which helped jump two spot to No. 15 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, two positions below his career-high.
Ivo Karlovic (8-7, 5-4 in singles)
The 6'10" right-hander first represented Croatia in its Davis Cup tie against Ireland in July 2000, but it was not 2008 that Karlovic firmly established himself in the squad. In July this year, he beat American James Blake in the first rubber of Croatia's 3-2 quarter-final victory over United States. The former World No. 14 has reached five quarter-finals (or better) this year, including a first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon (l. to eventual champion Federer). He also reached the semi-finals at Serbia Open 2009 (l. to Kubot). The 30 year old has hit an ATP-best 773 aces in 38 matches this season.
Roko Karanusic (2-5, 2-4 in singles)
The 27-year-old Zagreb native first made his Davis Cup debut in March 2005, when Ivan Ljubicic led Croatia to a memorable 3-2 win over the United States in Los Angeles. He has a 0-2 record in live rubbers and was part of the squad that beat Chile and United States this year. The World No. 131 reached the Australian Open second round (l. to Nadal) and qualified for Wimbledon, but lost in the first round (l. to Becker). He attained a career-high No. 88 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings on 2 February 2009. Lovro Zovko (5-8, 4-2 in singles). Despite making his Davis Cup debut against Norway in September 1998, Zovko has represented Croatia in nine ties. He has a 1-6 record in doubles rubbers, with his sole win coming on his debut. The 28-year-old doubles specialist, currently No. 94 in the ATP Doubles Rankings, has reached two ATP Challenger Tour finals this season at Belgrade (w/Qureshi) and Segovia (w/Stakhovsky).
CZECH REPUBLIC (111-73 ties record, 1921 first year played)
Radek Stepanek (12-7, 6-6 in singles)
The Monte-Carlo resident has represented Czech Republic in eight Davis Cup ties, having made his debut against Russia in February 2003. Stepanek led the nation to a 3-2 win over France and 3-2 victory over Argentina in the quarter-finals this year. At 30 years of age he is the oldest player in the Top 20 of the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings and has clinched two ATP World Tour titles this year (1-2 record) at the Brisbane International (d. Verdasco) and SAP Open in San Jose (d. Fish), from three finals - finishing runner-up at the Region Morgan Keegan Championship in Memphis (l. to Roddick). He also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon (l. to Hewitt) and US Open (l. to Djokovic).
Tomas Berdych (19-7, 12-7 in singles)
The Monte-Carlo resident made his Davis Cup debut three days after his 18th birthday against Thailand in September 2003. This year, he helped Czech Republic beat France and Argentina that included wins over Gilles Simon and Juan Monaco. The 23-year-old compiled a 15-12 record through the first five months and in early May he captured his fifth ATP World Tour title at the BMW Open in Munich (d. Youzhny). He has also reached quarter-finals at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington (l. to Isner) and the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati (l. to Nadal). The World No. 18 posted his best Grand Slam performances at the Australian Open (l. to Federer) and Wimbledon (l. to Roddick), with fourth round showings.
Jan Hernych (0-4, 0-3 in singles)
The 30-year-old Prague native has represented Czech Republic in three ties, but has only contested one live rubber against Argentina on his debut in March 2005. This year, the World No. 63 has reached one ATP World Tour semi-final at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors (l. to Ancic) but in tandem with Czech compatriots he has captured the BMW Open title in Munich (w/Minar) and reached the Open 13 semi-finals in Marseille (w/Berdych).
Lukas Dlouhy (3-3, 2-2 in singles)
Lukas Dlouhy, currently No. 7 in the ATP Doubles Rankings, arrives in Croatia full of confidence having captured the US Open doubles title with Leander Paes. The duo also clinched the Roland Garros trophy (d. Moodie-Norman), advanced to the Australian Open semi-finals (l. to Bryan-Bryan) an ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament final in Rotterdam (l. to Nestor-Zimonjic). The 26-year-old Monte-Carlo resident made his Davis Cup debut versus Morocco in April 2006 and he has since competed in three further ties. He last represented Czech Republic in a Davis Cup tie against Russia in April 2008.