With the United States Open firmly behind us, the focus now moves to the Davis Cup semi-finals, which feature two intriguing ties, the first between France and the Czech Republic, while the second is between Switzerland and Italy. The event will feature three Top 10 players, two of which will spearhead the Swiss team (Federer & Wawrinka), while the third (Tomas Berdych) will attempt to lead his country to their third consecutive Davis Cup title.
France vs, Czech Republic (Roland Garros — Clay, Outdoor)
France: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau
Czech Republic: Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol, Radek Stepanek, Jiri Vesely
Arguably the more competitive and appealing tie is the one set to take place on the red dirt at Roland Garros. It incorporates a remarkable rivalry that dates back to 1924 and stretches all the way to their last meeting in 2009. It has always been an entertaining and competitive affair, as they have split their 14 meetings over the past 90 years 7-7, and one of the two teams shall break that tie this weekend to advance to the Davis Cup final.
Their most recent encounter was at the 2009 quarter-final round, where a Berdych and Stepanek led Czech team won the tie 3-2 en route to the semi-final round. They would go on to reach the final but would fall short in that final tie.
Much has changed in the past five years, and although the rivalry has become dormant, the Czech team went on bigger and brighter things. Berdych will now be eyeing a third consecutive title for his country, and will be backed by the likes of Lukas Rosol, who earned 3 of the 5 points against Japan, and Radek Stepanek, who has been responsible for the nerve wreaking wins in the fifth rubber to win the title on two separate occasions.
This time though, they come up against a formidable challenge in France, a team headlined by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and featuring Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Julien Benneteau as well. While Gasquet has had a surprisingly quiet hard court season this year, the remaining three Frenchmen all played some spectacular tennis at varying points over the summer; Tsonga defeated four Top 10 competitors to lift the Rogers Cup Masters title in Toronto, while Gael Monfils held two match points over Roger Federer in their US Open quarter-final clash.
The tie will also be held on their home soil at Roland Garros, which certainly does not help the Czech team’s title aspirations.
While it is difficult to gauge who the French team will select as the second singles player, they have been gifted with a trio of options, any of which would be troubling to the Czech team.
Prediction: France def. Czech Republic 3-2.