BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: When it comes to a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie being played in Argentina, passion runs high and the three days will have an atmosphere that is almost unequalled anywhere. This weekend in the semifinals at the Parque Roca, Argentina has assembled its best team to take on the finest from the Czech Republic.
The draw for the tie was conducted at a beautiful auditorium in a new concert venue, Uzine del Arte, in Buenos Aires and it highlighted that Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina’s most recent Grand Slam champion, would take on the tenacious play of Radek Stepanek in the opening rubber. That would be followed by US Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych against Juan Monaco.
The doubles rubber on Saturday has Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar squaring off against Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank. The doubles teams can be changed up to an hour before play and depending on how the first day goes the gut feeling is that Stepanek and Berdych might just step in.
In the reverse singles the two No.1’s will start play on the final day. Berdych plays del Potro and then Stepanek plays Monaco.
For both nations the Davis Cup has been elusive; the Czech’s have won it just once back in 1980 while under the Czechoslovakian flag, while the Argentines have lost four finals and never won the title. And should the Argentines get through to the final who must wonder if the home team can take encouragement from what Andy Murray just did? The British star lost his first four Grand Slam finals before claiming the US Open, his fifth final.
“I have the experience from a couple of years ago when I experienced one of the toughest crowds in tennis so we will be ready but probably nothing changed in that time and we expect it to be really loud but that’s how it is, it is a part of Davis Cup,” said Berdych.
“We expect everything to stay in fair play and the crowd is only going to be loud. Every match in Davis Cup is completely different to all the others. I am expecting a very hard opponent with the home crowd and playing for his home country. I will try my best, I will try to bring something from my form from New York and try to build on that. I am there to bring a point for us and I hope I am successful.”
Berdych added that for him everything is fine even though the schedule is quite packed and quite tough but he’s prepared and ready for the weekend. He said the match court is in a very good condition which makes it easier when transferring from the North American hard courts.
Del Potro has been struggling with a wrist problem and there were concerns about his fitness but he has made it very clear that it was not going to stop him representing his nation.
“I hope my wrist is okay,” he said. “Still I am feeling little pain but I will still try to manage the painful and play my best tennis here is Buenos Aires.”
He has not been in a position to test the wrist out completely. He makes it clear that it is not 100%, but his passion for representing his nation just as he did at the Olympics where he won the bronze medal will not be overcome by anything.
Del Potro added: “I am playing Davis Cup and sometimes you get more energy to play these kinds of matches and the crowd will be fantastic for me and that will help me to fight.’
For the Czech team having someone like Stepanek on their side is such a bonus. His years and years of experience have made him tough both physically and mentally. He could almost be likened to a war horse and a work horse.
“I have had a great year in doubles so far and always when it came to Davis Cup, I won in tournament before, like I won in Australian Open and then in Miami and then we won in Davis Cup,” Stepanek said. “Now, before this tie, I have been in the finals of the US Open, so looking to Davis Cup it is always bringing some magic out of me and I will definitely try to use that confidence from the matches I played there to my advantage in Argentina.”
Monaco meanwhile has been enjoying the best year of his career and, even though he had a disappointing US Open, there is a positive that can be taken away from that as he looks to this semifinal.
“It gave me more time to practice here and be ready for the matches because it will be very difficult to play against all the guys from the Czech Republic,” Monaco said. “I feeling great here, playing at home and on clay and with all the Argentine supporters, so it will be nice to play back here and at home.”
This is going to be a loud, frenetic and very passionate weekend. Tennis will be a winner.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) v Radek Stepanek (CZE)
R2: Juan Monaco (ARG) v Tomas Berdych (CZE)
R3: Carlos Berlocq / Eduardo Schwank (ARG) v Ivo Minar / Lukas Rosol (CZE)
R4: Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) v Tomas Berdych (CZE)
R5: Juan Monaco (ARG) v Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) - 13/09/12
Martin Jaite (ARG) - 13/09/12
Juan Monaco (ARG) - 13/09/12
Tomas Berdych (CZE) - 13/09/12
Captain Jaroslav Navratil (CZE) - 13/09/12
Radek Stepanek (CZE) - 13/09/12