GIJON, SPAIN: It will be the greatest country in Davis Cup history versus the greatest Davis Cup nation of the 21st Century when Team USA meets Team Spain in the semifinals at the Parque Hermanos Castro in Gijon, Spain this weekend.
The United States began their winning ways over Great Britain in 1900 at the first ever Davis Cup tie and has won a record 32 Davis Cup titles since that time. The USA’s last Davis Cup victory came against Russia in Portland, Oregon, in 2007.
Spain, this year’s defending champions, have won the Davis Cup title five times in history and all of their victories have been in this century: 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011.
Heading into the semifinals Spain and the USA are tied at 5-5 in previous meetings and the outcome of this tie will move the winner on to the 2012 final and also give one team a slight head-to-head advantage.
The weekend will open with Spain’s top player David Ferrer playing Sam Querrey, and will be followed by the USA’s No. 1 John Isner against Nicolas Almagro on Friday.
Saturday’s doubles rubber features Bob and Mike Bryan, the reigning Olympic gold medalists and US Open champions, taking on Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
On Sunday, Isner and Ferrer will play the first rubber of the day followed by Querrey and Almagro in the final rubber of the tie.
Playing in the quaint town of Gijon on the northern coast of Spain, many believe that home turf and a favorable clay court provides an advantage for the Spanish squad. It’s a benefit for the hosts that they have so many top players they can field a number of strong combinations. It also doesn’t hurt that Spain is on a record breaking run of winning 23 home ties dating back to their last home tie loss to Brazil in 1999.
“It’s been a great experience being the captain for a few months,” said Alex Corretja, who was on the winning Spanish squad in 2000 and is in his first year as captain. “Of course, we are very pleased we have these amount of players on our team that you can pick, you can choose. It’s an honour for me to be able to guide this kind of team.
“It’s been a great experience and we will see if we can keep on going on.”
The talk on the streets revolves around the Americans preferring speedy hard courts or at least some slippery grass.
But while not the favourites they should not be ignored as potential spoilers on clay. This year, under the guidance of USA captain Jim Courier -- a two-time French Open champion on clay and a member of USA’s winning Davis Cup final teams in 1992 and 1995 -- the USA’s proven they can perform on the dirty even when it looks as if they’re destined to lose. In the first round USA beat Switzerland 5-0 on indoor clay, including Isner’s dramatic four-set win over Roger Federer. In the quarterfinals the USA scored a 3-2 win on outdoor clay in France.
“The semifinals going to be, well it’s hard to say it’s your biggest challenge yet when we’ve played so many great teams on the road, but this is a team in Spain that hasn’t lost in many, many years when they’ve played at home,” Courier said. “For us this is probably the biggest test in Davis Cup tennis, perhaps for any country to come to Spain and beat them on clay.
“But we like our chances. We don’t feel like we’re the favorites, but we feel like we have a chance and that’s the attitude we’ll take to the court.”
The full draw is listed below:
R1: David Ferrer (ESP) v Sam Querrey (USA)
R2: Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v John Isner (USA)
R3: Marcel Granollers / Marc Lopez (ESP) v Bob Bryan / Mike Bryan (USA)
R4: David Ferrer (ESP) v John Isner (USA)
R5: Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v Sam Querrey (USA)
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Nicolas Almagro (ESP) - 13/09/2012
Captain Alex Corretja (ESP) - 13/09/2012
Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 13/09/2012
John Isner (USA) - 13/09/2012