Spain wary of USA threat

2012-09-13 08:00

Paris - The twin towers of John Isner and Sam Querrey, allied to the Bryan twins, Mike and Bob, in the doubles will give US coach Jim Courier hope that the United States can upset holders Spain in the Davis Cup semi-finals in Gijon this weekend.

The other semi-final takes place in Buenos Aires with Juan Martin del Potro an injury doubt for Argentina against the Czech Republic.

The Americans have lost the last two ties between the countries in Davis Cup play and they are without the newly-retired Andy Roddick, who has been his country's mainstay in the competition over the last decade.

But under the captaincy of Grand Slam winner Courier, they have chalked up back-to-back away wins in Switzerland (5-0), where Isner shocked Roger Federer, and France (3-2) where he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the decisive rubber.

Courier believes the US bandwagon can claim another scalp.

"It's the ultimate ask, going into Spain and playing them on red clay, where they haven't lost in a long time," he said in New York during the US Open.

"We certainly aren't the favourites and we felt that way in the first two matches as well. We've had the toughest draw you can have in Davis Cup.

"If we get to the final, let's run the table. Let's be on the road all year long. Let's go to Argentina and win it down there. If we're going to do this let's make this the greatest road season in modern Davis Cup history."

Easing the task on hand for the Americans is the fact that Spain will have to do without star turn Rafael Nadal who continues to rest his troublesome knees on the injury sidelines.

Nadal on clay would have represented a near-certain two points for the hosts, leaving the Americans needing to win the three remaining rubbers.

As it is they still have to defeat two of the finest claycourters in world tennis in the shape of world No 5 David Ferrer and No 12 Nicolas Almagro.

Ferrer in particular has been in fine form of late with a run into the US Open semi-finals where he lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic.

The 30-year-old powerhouse pulled off two straight sets win in the previous round against Austria and will be expected to supply two more this weekend.

But warning against any sense of complacency, Spanish team reserve Feliciano Lopez said that the Americans were always dangerous in Davis Cup play.

"The danger from the United States stems from the fact that they have the best doubles team in the world, the Bryan brothers, and John Isner, who everyone says is a specialist on fast hardcourts, but who this year on clay has beaten Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and who last year took Rafael Nadal to five sets at Roland Garros," he said.

"It is clear that the pressure will be on us to win, but it is one thing to say that we are favourites and quite another to think that we have it won in advance."

In Buenos Aires world No 8 Del Potro said that he is desperate to play for his country even though he has been told he needs to rest the wrist injury he picked up at the US Open where he reached the quarter-finals.

"The doctor has recommended me to rest for 15 days, but I'll do the impossible to play against the Czech Republic," del Potro tweeted.

With the veteran Davis Cup stalwart David Nalbandian also not available through injury, Argentina coach Martin Jaite will look to world No 11 Juan Monaco and world No 45 Carlos Berlocq.

Up against them, the Czech Republic will present a strong line-up with US Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych and the hugely-experienced Radek Stepanek likely to fill the singles slots.

Argentina are bidding to reach the Final for the second straight year after finishing runners-up to Spain in 2011.

The Czechs reached the final themselves in 2009 - also losing to Spain - but unlike their opponents they have managed to lift the trophy once before, in 1980.