The Colombian Santiago Giraldo and the Brazilian Joao Souza, numbers one and two in their countries respectively, have been put in charge of getting their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Americas Zone Group I tie started at 4pm local time (1pm GMT) in Sao Jose do Rio Preto.
The second point of the tie will be contested by Thomaz Bellucci and Alejandro Falla.
The draw, which took place on Thursday, left the home team happy after Souza, aged 23 and ranked No. 102, was drawn to play Giraldo first.
“I think it will be a good match,” said Souza. “I hope to go in relaxed and to show off my best tennis. With Giraldo, we have known each other since juniors and we have played each other many times with victories for both sides. We know they have come with a very competitive team, but we have the advantage of playing at home with the support of our fans, which can be a huge factor in Davis Cup.”
The captain of the home team, Joao Zwetsch, was also hoping for some good matches, in which the quality of his current crop of players would be put to the test.
“We have got Joao Souza making his debut. He’s a young player who is rising up the rankings, he plays very aggressive and has been playing well in training,” added Zwetsch.
“I hope he brings all that energy to the match. Thomaz [Bellucci] is also in good form and we know we face a difficult doubles pairing, but I’ve got every faith in my team. We’re going to play a team who are in playing well at the moment, just like us. That’s why I think all the matches are going to be close but with the advantage just in our favour.”
The home side, who haven’t been able to earn promotion to the World Group for six years, hope that 2012 will be the year they finally get back in the top flight after Bellucci came so close to winning the decisive point for against Russia in last year’s play-offs.
“We were a point away from going up against Russia,” said Brazil’s No. 1. “I hope that now we have better luck. Against Colombia it is going to be a really tough tie. They are playing well but we have the home advantage. The Brazilian public always gives you extra energy.”
The Colombian team, captained by Marc Gorriz, remains optimistic that they can win despite the history books showing that the visitors have failed to win any of their previous seven meetings against Brazil.
“We come here very motivated,” said the Colombian skipper, who also refuted that the heat would be a factor. “We know we are playing a very strong team, who will have the home support, but our players are used to that and have had similar experiences. Playing Davis Cup is very different because you are not playing for yourself you are playing for your country.”
For Giraldo, who arrives after a solid showing in Miami-1000, where he lost to No. 2 in the world Rafael Nadal, the tie will be extremely close with both teams capable of winning every point.
“We are coming up against a great team,” he said. “They have got very similar players to us in every aspect, but we are confident in our own game. We know each other very well. We have been playing together for 15 years. The first match will be very difficult because I’m playing a young guy who is playing well.”
The full draw is as follows:
R1: Joao Souza (BRA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
R2:Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) v Alejandro Falla (COL)
R3: Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares (BRA) v Juan-Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah (COL)
R4:Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
R5: Joao Souza (BRA) v Alejandro Falla (COL)
Over the border in Montevideo, Uruguay, the draw for the seventh encounter between the hosts and Chile was taking place.
The tie gets under way at the Carrasco Lawn Tennis Club tomorrow at 3pm local time with a match between Marcel Felder (No. 244) and Jorge Aguilar (No. 336). There’s plenty of history between the two players, both aged 27, with Aguilar having won three of their four previous meetings, the most recent of which came in a Futures semifinal in Peru in 2008.
The tie, which will decide one of the two Americas Zone Group representatives in September’s World Group play-offs, pits Martin Cuevas (No. 570) and Paul Capdeville (No. 199) in a head-to-head battle for the first time in the second rubber.
For the doubles, Uruguayan captain Enrique Perez has gone with Marcel Felder and Cuevas, while Chile’s Belus Prajoux has chosen Nicolas Massu and Guillermo Hormazabal. The match kicks off at 3pm local time on Saturday.
On Sunday, as usual, the fourth rubber is the match-up between both No. 1s, Felder and Capdeville, who despite having never met in competition the pair are good friends and less than a month ago won the Santiago Challenger doubles together.
Cuevas and Aguilar make up the fifth fixture.
The Uruguayan captain Perez could not hide his satisfaction with the draw: “It was important for Marcel to go out there first because he’s our No. 1 and he’s playing well. In the tie against Peru he won both his singles, playing really well and didn’t lose a set. We have to make the most of his confidence and if we put ourselves 1-0 up then Capdeville has to play and there could be a surprise.”
For his part, the Chilean captain Prajoux also seemed pleased: “It’s preferable for Jorge to open the tie so he doesn’t have to wait for the Capdeville result, of which I have no doubt will be a win. Aguilar has experience, he has played important matches before and we have every confidence he will be at his best here. What’s more, he has played against Felder before and that’s important in a match like this. With respect to Paul, I’m very relaxed, after Fernando Gonzalez retired he assumed the leadership very naturally.”
The full draw is as follows:
R1: Marcel Felder (URU) v Jorge Aguilar (CHI)
R2: Martin Cuevas (URU) v Paul Capveville (CHI)
R3: Marcel Felder/Ariel Behar (URU) v Nicolas Massu/Guillermo Hormazabal (CHI)
R4: Marcel Felder (URU) v Paul Capdeville(CHI)
R5: Martin Cuevas (URU) v Jorge Aguilar (CHI)