Best 4 nations remain

Davis Cup QFs are history and the 4 best nations are left to battle for the title. And I do mean the 4 best. Russia and US, #1 and #2; Spain and Argentina – filled with good players from top 100.  I think France also deserves to be mentioned into this top 4-5 group, but this year they fell short against more willing Americans. Speaking of willing… why didn’t Gasquet play Roddick?! There were some questions whether Gasquet and Forget hate each other or something. I cannot see a reason why Gasquet isn’t fit for the 4th rubber, but is 100% for the 5th and dead rubber.

Gasquet didn’t look too bad against Blake and has more firepower from both forehand and backhand than Mathieu. I also think he is a much better returner and can come up with that little something on Roddick’s serve that Mathieu lacks. I mean if you don’t wanna play for France, just freakin’ say so!

Argentina had to deal with a much stronger Sweden than I anticipated, and probably what they’d hope for down in Buenos Aires. The deciding 4th rubber was a match to remember, where Nalbandian started out in front, only to be slaugthered in the second set and get down 1-2 to Soderling before turning it around and giving us a 9-7 in 5th set. Nalbandian is not known for consistency, but reports say he played well and it was Sweden and Soderling who were perhaps performing over ability on the red dirt. Soderling finished off the 2nd rubber in no time, losing only 5 games in 3 sets on Friday. He came out as the strong link on the Swedish team, but didn’t manage to pull out the win in the 5th set.

Russia was also “lucky” in a way, that Berdych had to retire in the deciding set against Davydenko. If he had won that one, the last match would be relatively open, depending on who would play it. But i guess of the two nations, Russia is still strongest overall.

Spain impressed me. They didn’t need to waste any time and took it 3-0 after the day-long doubles match on Saturday. I guess Lopez and Verdasco can get the HERO label and stroll into the SF against the US with quite a bit of confidence. If they can beat a strong German team on faster hard courts, they can surely beat the Bryans on clay, right?!  But that’s several months away, but it will cleary be the one to watch. I assume they will set it in the same place as DC final 2004… for slowest possible speed and cool conditions.

As an early prediction, I will give Russia and Spain the right-of-way into the DC final.

BTW… clay season starts TODAY in Estoril (Federer), Valencia, Houston



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