Photo: Paul ZimmerNicolas Almagro (ESP) and Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
The draws took place on Thursday at each of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal ties, as the captains announced their team line-ups for the weekend's action.
Jurgen Melzer will open up for Austria against Nicolas Almagro on the first day of their tie against defending champions Spain. It is the first appearance for Austria in this stage of the competition for 17 years but if they are to progress any further they will need to end Spain's impressive run of 22 victories on home soil dating back to 1999.
Austria's task has been made all the more difficult thanks to the return of David Ferrer for Spain, who will face Andreas Haider-Maurer in the second rubber of the day. The Austrian No. 2 produced an upset in the first round earlier this year when he defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr. but world No. 5 Ferrer may prove to be a much tougher nut to crack.
The winner of the tie in Spain will face off against either France or USA in the World Group semifinals. The Americans are coming into the tie at the Monte Carlo Country Club in fine form having whitewashed a Roger Federer-led Switzerland in February.
The task of continuing the impressive run will fall on the shoulders of youngster Ryan Harrison, featuring in his first ever live rubber. His opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga can boast a 3-1 record on clay in the Davis Cup and will be strongly favoured to put the hosts ahead.
John Isner, the hero from Fribourg, has continued to shine on the Tour since his victory against Federer. He will face late replacement Gilles Simon, who was drafted into the side when Gael Monfils had to withdraw due to injury. Captain Jim Courier was quick to nominate his team as underdogs for the tie but Davis Cup is known for its unpredictability.
In possibly one of the closest ties of the weekend in Prague, Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych will face Serbian No. 2 Viktor Troicki in the opening rubber. Later in the day Radek Stepanek will play Janko Tipsarevic as each side looks to gain the advantage going into Saturday's doubles that will feature Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Rosol against Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac.
The two nations have met just once in the last 20 years, at the semifinal stage in 2010 when Serbia overturned a deficit on the final day to earn a 3-2 victory. This tie promises to be just as exciting and the reverse singles may once again prove to be decisive, although this time Novak Djokovic will be not be available to come off the bench to help.
Argentine captain Martin Jaite pulled a surprise in his nominations as he picked David Nalbandian ahead of Juan Monaco for their first rubber against Croatia. Nalbandian showed good form during the American hard court season recently and will need to continue that if he is to score a victory against world No. 23 Marin Cilic.
In the other singles rubber on Friday, Juan Martin del Potro will come up against Ivo Karlovic in what promises to be a noisy Parque Roca in Buenos Aires. Saturday's doubles will feature Nalbandian partnering Eduardo Schwank and Cilic playing alongside Lovro Zovko. With both Nalbandian and Cilic playing on all days, fitness way well play a part during the reverse singles on a potentially nerve-wracking final day.
Click the links below a full report from each of the World Group quarterfinals.
- Spain v Austria
- France v USA
- Czech Republic v Serbia
- Argentina v Croatia