After Novak announced his withdrawal from Serbia’s Davis Cup squad, it was the turn of newly crowned Wimbledon champion Andy Murray to show uncertainty about his participation. The quarterfinals of the World Group matches begin on Friday with Serbia and Great Britain vying for one of the top four finishers. At Belgrade’s Tasmajdan Stadium, the British squad will be considerably weakened if Murray finally decides to stay away from the vital tie. Simultaneously, the World Group quarterfinals will also be staged at three other venues around the world. Italy will host Argentina in Pesaro; France will go across to Czech Republican city of Trinec while USA will play against Croatia at home in Portland.
One common reason being ascribed to the withdrawals by Djokovic and Murray from their national sides in Belgrade’s Davis Cup quarterfinal, could be the time required by them for preparations of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Andy Murray won the gold medal in 2012 London Olympics from Roger Federer and will be inclined for a repeat performance at Rio. Djokovic’s best finish at Olympics was the bronze medal at 2008 Beijing Games but the Serb is currently in such devastating form that he is the strongest contender for winning the men’s singles gold medal at Brazil. However, Serbia and Britain will be affected by the absence of their top stars, who are gifted with the capability of single-handedly carrying the teams on their shoulders. The second-line players from both nations are considerably lower in world rankings. Janko Tipsarevic, Filip Krajinovic, Dusan Lajovic and Nenad Zimonjic will represent Serbia while Kyle Edmund, Daniel Evans and Jamie Murray could form the British squad if Andy Murray also joins. Or else, Captain Leon Smith will have to look for another player if Murray decides to skip the tie. Murray’s solid performance against Japan in March 2016 was singularly responsible for Great Britain entering the World Group quarterfinals. The world no.2 won all his matches and Great Britain defeated Japan 3-1. Around the same time, Serbia stole a 3-2 win against Kazakhstan.
At Pesaro, Italy and Argentina look equally matched with strong singles and doubles players on either side. Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi and Paolo Lorenzi are expected to play against Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, Federico Delbonis and Guido Pella. If del Potro is match-fit, he can carry Argentina on his shoulders even if the Latin American nation doesn’t have the home advantage. At Portland, USA will play at home with John Isner, Jack Sock, Mike and Bob Bryan while Croatia is powered with Borna Coric, Marin Cilic in the singles and Ivan Dodig and Marin Draganja in the doubles.
That leaves a mouth-watering contest between France and the Czech Republic at Trinec. These two have traditionally been great Davis Cup nations in the tournament’s history and this will be their 16th meeting with each other. France tipped the Czech applecart in 2014 semifinal to prevent them going into the final against Switzerland. The victory would have given the Czechs a chance to win their third consecutive Davis Cup title. But this time round, Czech Republic play with the home advantage and they have fighters in Jiri Vesely, Lukas Rosol and Radek Stepanek. France are no mean side with world no.10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga leading the charge. Besides, France will also have Nicolas Mahut and Lucas Pouille in their ranks. France lead 8-7 on head-to-head count but Czechs haven’t lost at home for a while and that gives them an edge. Czech Republic have won the Davis Cup in 2012 and 2013, whereas France’s last Cup triumph came in 2001. In the first round played in March, France defeated Canada in a dominant display and that has raised their hopes. Regardless of the winner, the France-Czech Republic tie will certainly be a cracker.
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