BAMBERG, GERMANY: Last year's runners-up Argentina are looking to use their wealth of experience heading into this year's Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie, while hosts and three-time champions Germany are banking on the home crowd support.
Argentine No. 1 Juan Monaco will look to extend his winning run when he takes on Germany's Philipp Petzschner in the opening rubber of this Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie.
“I have only played Philipp in the juniors. He is a very talented player. I have to be ready. But I have a chance to start and give Argentina the first point,” said Monaco, who enters this weekend's tie on the back of clinching his fourth career title at Vina del Mar in Chile last week.
German No. 1 Florian Mayer will follow on Friday with a showdown with Argentina's Davis Cup stalwart David Nalbandian, who is playing in his 10th tie for the South Americans.
“I’m getting older. That’s the worst part. But I’m happy to play Davis Cup. This is one of the competitions that I really like. And I’m happy to be here,” said Nalbandian, who leads Mayer 2-1 in previous meetings, but lost their most recent clash in Shanghai last year.
Davis Cup returnee Tommy Haas – playing for Germany for the first time since 2007 – and Petzschner are scheduled to team up for the doubles rubber against Eduardo Schwank and Juan Ignacio Chela on Saturday.
“I’m just really excited to be back. I hope to help the team as much as I can to get three points against a tough Argentinean team,” said Haas, who has dropped to No. 166 in the rankings after playing very little due to a series of injuries in 2010 and 2011.
The fourth player on the German team is 21-year-old Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who was called in by captain Patrick Kuhnen when Philipp Kohlschreiber pulled out due to stomach flu.
Still, Kuhnen is confident of his team’s chances of beating Argentina for just the third time and first since 1991.
“I have a good feeling going into this one because I think we have a very strong team. We have been working hard for the last couple of days and I know my players are ready to go. They are in good shape and we like to play on this surface. Every single player is capable of playing great tennis,” said Kuhnen.
“Argentina is a very strong team obviously being third in the world. But we have the home advantage.”
Friday’s day of action is sold out in Bamberg as 4,800 spectators will pack the Stechert Arena.
Argentine captain Martin Jaite, who took over as boss after Tito Vazquez left the position, believes his team can rely on its experience in big situations to come through here in Germany.
“It is important to have players with experience. All four players in the team have already played finals and semifinals in a Davis Cup. So I know that they have a lot of experience even if the captain is nervous during the match.
"They know very well how to play Davis Cup. That’s the key of the Argentine team,” said Jaite, who is hoping to finally give Argentina their much-desired first Davis Cup crown after losing four finals.
“They know what they have to do. They have been in finals and semifinals. They are not young boys,” added the veteran Nabaldian.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Petzschner (GER) v Monaco (ARG)
R2: Mayer (GER) v Nalbandian (ARG)
R3: Haas / Petzschner (GER) v Chela / Schwank (ARG)
R4: Mayer (GER) v Monaco (ARG)
R5: Petzschner (GER) v Nalbandian (ARG)
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