NAPLES, ITALY: Chile will have its hands full when it plays Italy in the World Group play-off tie of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas this weekend.
Already going into this weekend’s tie in Naples, the Italian team has a stronger roster of players and home advantage. And to stack the odds further in Italy’s favour, its best-ranked singles player, Andreas Seppi, is now set to play a much less eminent Chilean player, Guillermo Hormazabal, in the first singles rubber of the weekend.
The match-ups were decided Thursday, with names being randomly drawn a day before the competition begins.
“I think the difference of ranking between Seppi and Hormazabal – he is a guy who is 27 in the world and the other one is 290—is a lot,” said Belus Prajoux, the Chilean team captain.
As such, Chile is looking ahead to Friday’s second singles rubber, when Paul Capdeville will play Fabio Fognini. Prajoux added “That is the match that we think we can be very close, and if we win that then Saturday for the doubles will be our chance”.
In Saturday’s doubles rubber, Seppi and Daniele Bracciali will play on the Italian side, while Jorge Aguilar and Capdeville will play for Chile. On Sunday, the final day of the competition, Seppi will play Capdeville in the first singles match of the day, while Fognini and Hormazabal will square off during the final rubber of the weekend tie.
Italy is determined to win this weekend’s play-off tie to keep its place at the top level of Davis Cup competition, said Corrado Barazzutti, the Italian team captain. The tie will decide whether Italy will be one of the 16 nations to compete for the Davis Cup title next year, or whether Chile will take its place. Italy lost 4-1 to Czech Republic in February during its World Group first round tie, putting its position in the World Group in jeopardy.
“What is important for us is to win this match,” Barazzutti said Thursday. “We want to remain in the first division. We are here to try and win this match and start again in the first division next year. That’s it.”
Italy’s chances look good. In the past five Davis Cup match-ups between the two nations, Italy has left the court victorious every time — including in 1976, when Italy defeated Chile to win the Davis Cup final. Chile’s loss to Italy that year was the closest Chile has ever come to winning the Davis Cup crown.
Most recently, Italy defeated Chile 4-1 last year during the World Group play-offs, earning Italy the chance to compete at the top level of competition in 2012. The Chilean players lost on their home turf in Santiago last year, and now aim to defeat the Italians in Naples.
Despite the teams’ history, the Chilean captain said that the players are coming into the play-off tie this weekend ready to give Italy a fight. “We come here thinking we are going to win,” Prajoux said. “If not, we are not coming.”
Hormazabal said that he is looking forward to the challenge of playing singles against the formidable Seppi, rather than approaching tomorrow’s opening singles rubber with trepidation.
“For me, to play is the point,” Hormazabal said after order of play was announced. “I always try to improve myself. Their level is far above ours. I think is a good opportunity to grow.”
Meanwhile, Fognini faced questions about his condition after he suffered an injury earlier this year. He didn’t play in February when Italy lost to the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup World Group first round. But he described himself Thursday as being in “optimal condition.”
“I am ready,” he said.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Andreas Seppi (ITA) v Guillermo Hormazabal (CHI)
R2: Fabio Fognini (ITA) v Paul Capdeville (CHI)
R3: Simone Bolelli / Daniele Bracciali (ITA) v Jorge Aguilar / Paul Capdeville (CHI)
R4: Andreas Seppi (ITA) v Paul Capdeville (CHI)
R5: Fabio Fognini (ITA) v Guillermo Hormazabal (CHI)
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Captain Belus Prajoux (CHI) - 13/03/12
Captain Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) - 13/09/12