A scintillating Davis Cup clash between France and Czech Republic will begin on Friday afternoon on the red clay of Roland Garros. The rivalry has been dormant since their last meeting in 2009, which the Czech team won to level the series 7-7 over their 90-year history. A compelling berth between Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet will kick off the event and will be followed by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lukas Rosol. Berdych and Gasquet have crossed paths on eight previous occasions over an eight-year period, with the Frenchman leading the series 5-3.
World No. 6 Tomas Berdych has had a relatively forgettable summer in North America, as he went 2-3 heading into the US Open, where he lost to eventual champion Marin Cilic in the quarter-final round. With the final Grand Slam of the season firmly behind him, the leading member of the defending champions will be looking to help lead his country to yet another title.
“[Gasquet and I] have played a great many matches and it’s been up and down so it’s even,” said Berdych. “He’s a very great player and is very talented. There is not much to say about him – he’s going to be forced by 15,000 people, I know that feeling. It’s much nicer and it’s going to give you extra boost but it doesn’t change much for me.
France’s No. 2 Richard Gasquet had a surprisingly uneventful run during the US Open Series, as he picked up no more than three wins at any single event during the summer. He is coming off a third round exit to fellow Frenchman and Davis Cup teammate Gael Monfils, who would go on to take 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer to five sets in the quarter-final round on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
This marks the ninth time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Gasquet leading the head-to-head series 5-3. While the h2h record is an important benchmark when determining competitiveness in a rivalry, it is near impossible to gauge its effectiveness when dealing with Davis Cup matches. As a two-time defending champion, Berdych will be heavily motivated to ensure that his team is given every advantage heading into the second and third days of the tie. Gasquet may have the advantage and the odds in his favour, but I think Berdych will be prepared to secure a big upset on hostile soil.
Prediction: Tomas Berdych in Five Sets