|Posted on July 9, 2009 at 7:25 AM|
Click the Thumbnail for full picture viewing
Tomas Berdych at the draw ceremony
Radek Stepanek, right, and Tomas Berdych, left, both from Czech Republic smile during the draw ceremony for the Davis Cup World Group quarter-final tennis matches between Czech Republic and Argentina in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Thursday, July 9, 2009.
Berdych opens up for Czechs
Tomas Berdych will take on Juan Monaco in the opening rubber of the Czech Republic's Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal tie against Argentina in Ostrava.
The full draw for the weekend is as follows:
Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Juan Monaco (ARG)
Ivo Minar (CZE) v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
Lukas Dlouhy/Radek Stepanek (CZE) v Juan Martin del Potro/ Leonardo Mayer (ARG)
Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
Ivo Minar (CZE) v Juan Monaco (ARG)
Tough task for Minar on opening day
Ivo Minar, whose nickname is 'Mini', will have a maxi task on his hands when he faces the world No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro in the opening day's singles rubbers of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal between the Czech Republic and Argentina.
The possible absence of Radek Stepanek from the Czech Republic's singles rubbers has increased the pressure on Tomas Berdych, their No. 1, to start with a win in the opening rubber against Juan Monaco. Minar has spent most of this year playing Challenger events. His only previous Davis Cup experience was two years ago against the United States, when he lost in four sets to Andy Roddick.
One of the great fascinations of Davis Cup play has been always been the tactical nuances deployed by opposing teams and in that respect the build-up to the much-awaited quarterfinal did not disappoint.
Stepanek struggling with injury
Stepanek, the Czech No. 2, who has been struggling since before Wimbledon with a knee condition, was named only for the doubles, but Tito Vazquez, the hugely experienced Argentina captain, will believe that when he sees it. Similarly, his opposite number Jaroslav Navratil, will no doubt be surprised if Argentina's No. 1, Juan Martin Del Potro, turns out in all three rubbers, as suggested by the draw.
"It's a possibility that they decided to save him [Stepanek] against our best player - not to expose him against Juan Martin - and save him for the next two matches, the doubles and maybe the last day, that's what I think," said Vazquez.
"We're still not 100 per cent sure. We've prepared ourselves to play Stepanek, so in our minds we're still ready just in case, if tomorrow, something different happens."
Tough challenge for Argentina
With or without Stepanek in the opposition's ranks, this is a tough draw for Argentina, who are without the injured David Nalbandian - tougher even than the semifinal would be in prospect should they be fortunate enough to reach that stage for the sixth time in eight years. They would then play either the United States or Croatia at home - on clay.
Needless to say Vazquez is not too happy about playing this tie on the Taraflex surface of Ostrava's indoor CEZ Arena, where the Czech Republic team has been victorious in three successive ties.
Vazquez unhappy about surface
"I think it's quite unfair not to have too many tournaments around the world on that surface and I think the ITF should take notice about it - they should be surfaces where there are Grand Slams or where they play many tournaments," he said.
"It has been a very strong sacrifice for us to be able to get in good shape for this surface. We went with the whole team, which is like 14 people, to Paris to train on a similar court just to be here with some type of chance."
While the doubles, as ever, could prove decisive, neutrals and partisans alike will be hoping that the tie is still alive come the intriguing fourth rubber, the clash between two of the young giants (in more ways than one) of the modern game - Del Potro and Berdych.
Local fans will be hoping that the town where the great Ivan Lendl was born will inspire the 6ft 5in Berdych to produce his best tennis against the 6ft 6in Del Potro and lead them to victory. Czechoslovakia won the Davis Cup 29 years ago and the independent state of Slovakia finished runners-up four years ago. Now they think it's their turn to go one better.
Tomas Berdych from Czech Republic arrives at the draw ceremony for the Davis Cup World Group quarter-final tennis matches between Czech Republic and Argentina in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Thursday, July 9, 2009