Davis Cup SF: Sweden vs. USA

This is the match a lot of people didn’t see coming. Both teams are in a period where they don’t get too much support from their respective media. US tennis has suffered some downtime after Sampras retired. There hasn’t been a US slam champion since 2003. They haven’t won the Davis Cup since 1995, which happens to be a record. And they simply has not been able to give their country results that could turn the pessimism into optimism.

Sweden has sort of the same problem, only worse. The country has always been very present on the tennis maps, but in recent years they haven’t been able to produce one champion. Yes, Johansson won Aussie Open not so long ago, but that is basically it. Not only are they no winning titles, but there are fewer Swedish flags shown on the drawboards. Even worse, the future doesn’t look VERY promising, when their current strong team is dominated with their two profiles, Bjørkman and Johansson (the older one). The young Johansson used to be looked upon as a potential, but I don’t know what happened there. Here are the squads:

USA:
Andy Roddick
Roddick is a dedicated Davis Cup player. No doubt about that. I cannot remember when he turned down to play it (as my memory is short) but it seems as if he puts Davis Cup in front of almost anything else. In the start of the year he played the tie against Spain with a serious beating of Verdasco in straight sets with a so so hamstring injury. It could’ve worsened it, so he was in a do-or-die mode. I can’t really see him losing to any of the Swedes on this fast type of court. Had the Swedes chosen clay…. I don’t know. I think Bjørkman could have taken him. Bjørkman has a stamina of a 25 year old, and should have had a good chance.

James Blake
Doesn’t like the red stuff either, so fast carpet wasn’t something to cry about for him either. He wants this title too of course, almost as much as Andy. I think that if he gets that forehand fired up against the old guys, there shouln’t be any reason not to win in straight sets.

The Bryans:
Safe bet. Even Bjørkman/Aspelin coming in as a good Doubles team, the brothers are on fire in Davis Cup and are ready to do some damage in Sweden. 11-1 record in Davis Cup is simply stunning. The 1 loss was actually indoor against Ljubicic/Ancic. Don’t know what happened there, but they can have an off day without it beaing very important. They will win their match.

Sweden:
Jonas Bjørkman
Unpredictable written all over him. At 35 he has a long experince with 38-21. Indoor 26-12.
Bjørkman is the only one I would pick to annoy the Americans in singles. He has the potential to take Roddick and Blake if he plays like he has done in some recent slams. On his very best, he should actually stand a chance. With the fast court, he needs to keep the rallies short, with is exactly why they picked it in the first place. For Roddick he needs to come up with some shots in the 3 or 4 breakers. For Blake, he needs to break him early and play his normal serve-volley to keep them short and away from Blake’s comfort zone on the deuce side.

Thomas Johansson
3 years younger than Bjørkman, but doesn’t look it. Roddick should be able to play the same way he did at the USO and take him in 3. Blake too for that matter. Sorry, but I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel here.

Joachim Johansson
Don’t know exactly what role he’ll play, but 2-2 in DC doesn’t tell me that he is the first pick. No chance singles-wise anyway so… No, no, no…

Simon Aspelin
Doubles with Bjørkman. Not very good stats here. 2-4 and losing in their 1st round against Belarus. Don’t know if Wilander will pick him for the doubles. I would definetely go for the Johansson/Bjørkman couple who beat Canas/Nalbandian in the QF. Bench is the place to be.

Prediction.
Roddick wins both singles
Blake wins one, loses one
Bryans crush the Swedes on Saturday….
USA 4 Sweden 1

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