Close on the heels of the 2016 US Open, comes Davis Cup matches beginning September 16. The Davis Cup is the most prestigious global team event in men’s tennis run by International Tennis Federation on a grand scale with matches played all across the world simultaneously. Unlike ATP and Grand Slam tournaments, where individual superiority takes precedence, Davis Cup matches are played for national prestige. In the last few years, top players like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have brought the cherished Davis Cup trophy to their nations and added colorful feathers to their already illustrious caps with those achievements. It all began with Djokovic winning the 2010 Davis Cup for Serbia before Roger Federer led Switzerland to Davis Cup glory in 2014. Andy Murray of Great Britain did exactly the same in 2015 for his country and he now has a chance for repeating that feat. The World Group semifinals this weekend are the most keenly awaited contests. Great Britain play against Argentina at Glasgow while in the other semifinal at Zadar in Croatia, the home team takes on France. Besides, Davis Cup World Group play-off ties will also be played at various global venues during September 16-18, 2016. The action this weekend doesn’t stop there, since other matches in different Groups under the American Zone, Asia/Oceania Zone and Europe & Africa Zone have also been scheduled during the same period. But without a shred of doubt, the two semifinals at Glasgow and Zadar will garner the most attention. Of all the Davis Cup matches scheduled from Friday to Sunday, the mouth-watering clash between Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro will be the most keenly awaited. As per the draw on Thursday, the Murray- del Potro showdown is the first event at Glasgow on Friday afternoon.
Last August, the global tennis fraternity watched the Rio Olympic gold-medal match between Britain’s world no.2 Andy Murray and Argentina’s comeback man Juan Martin del Potro. The two great players would have met in the semifinal of the just concluded US Open at New York but they lost their quarterfinal matches. Murray was taken out by Japan’s Kei Nishikori while del Potro lost to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland. However, on Friday, the crowd at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena will have their chance to see the repeat of Rio men’s tennis final. It will be a great start for the Davis Cup semifinals to be followed by the second singles match between Kyle Edmund and Guido Pella. Murray has told media that his second match with del Potro in less than 5 weeks winning back to back Olympic golds, would be a hard battle. The two had fought for 4 hours at Rio in an emotionally draining match and the encounter at Glasgow may not be very different. The Argentine has returned to tennis courts after multiple wrist surgeries and he will be playing his first Davis Cup singles since 2012. But the 27-year-old del Potro is a great fighter and he will strive to end Andy Murray’s 14-match winning streak in Davis Cup matches.
In the other semifinal at Croatia, France will be missing the services of Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the two of them have injury concerns. The French campaign is spearheaded by veteran Richard Gasquet and the fast rising 22-year-old Lucas Pouille. In the opening singles match on Friday, Gasquet will face Croatia’s talented youngster Borna Coric. In the second match, Pouille will have a tough opponent in Marin Cilic. France have a strong doubles team in Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert but the Croat combo of Ivan Dodig and Marin Draganja are no chickens either. In reverse singles on Sunday, Cilic will play Gasquet while Coric and Pouille take on each other.
Besides the two semifinals, the Davis Cup week-end is crowded with 8 World Group play off matches and several others in American, Asia/Oceania and Europe & Africa Zones. In World Group play-offs, there will be 8 matches. Uzbekistan and Switzerland play at Tashkent; Belgium and Brazil at Ostend; Australia and Slovakia at Sydney; Canada and Chile at Halifax; Russia and Kazakhstan at Moscow; India and Spain at New Delhi; Germany and Poland at Berlin and Japan and Ukraine at Osaka. Indian tennis fans will have the opportunity of watching the legendary Rafael Nadal at New Delhi’s RK Khanna Tennis Complex from Friday.
The Davis Cup action will also be seen in American Zone Group I, where Dominican Republic and Colombia will play at Dominican Republic while Group II will see the third-round play-offs between Peru and Venezuela at Lima. In Asia/Oceania Zone, New Zealand take on Pakistan in Group I second round play-off at Christchurch while in Group II third round play-off, Taiwan play against Thailand at Nonthaburi. In Group I first round matches of Europe and Africa Zone, Sweden and Netherlands meet at Sweden and in the second round tie, Portugal play against Slovenia at Portugal. In this Zone’s Group II, there will be two third round play-offs, where Bosnia Herzegovina meet Lithuania at Vinius and Belarus take on Denmark at Minsk.