For Live Commentary of the matches, please click here: USA – Spain Live Davis Cup 2012
You can follow the other semifinal encounter here: Argentina vs Czech Republic Live Davis Cup 2012
Last time they faced, at the beginning of July 2011 (quarter-finals), Spain caused a big surprise by defeating the United States in Austin, and on a fast hard court. David Ferrer has then been the hero of the Spanish team, who was playing the tie without Rafael Nadal.
This semi-final is the reverse: the United States come to Gijón as the clear underdog, the Spaniards not having known Davis Cup defeat on home soil in the last 23 ties they played as locals. Furthermore, the surface chosen, clay, is not the best surface of the U.S. team. Also, despite not counting on Rafael Nadal, injured, Spain counts on the return of David Ferrer, who had chosen to opt out of the first two ties of the season.
However, the U.S. have caused a big surprise in the quarter-finals, when they defeated France, in Monaco, on clay, where John Isner, like he did against Switzerland in the first round, was the hero of the team, playing at a very high level to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and clinch the tie for the visitors.
Is it to say that Isner will repeat his performance against Nicolás Almagro on Friday? I would not bet on it. Isner’s performances outside of Davis Cup, since the tie against France, haven’t been the most consistent, especially in the Grand Slams. Almagro, on the other hand, has compiled, for the season, a record of 34-9 on clay, including two titles, although both have come before the French Open. He also reached the final in Båstad (l. to David Ferrer) and the semi-final in Hamburg (l. to eventual champion Juan Mónaco), both despite a shoulder injury.
Considering Almagro’s clay court record, and how he also did very well in Davis Cup since the beginning of the season, carrying the Spanish team very convincingly in the absence of Nadal and Ferrer, he is the favourite to win this match, which will be the second singles match of the day.
In the first match, David Ferrer, who has never lost a Davis Cup rubber on clay (14-0), will face Sam Querrey, who returns to the U.S. squad for the first time since 2010, as he spent a big part of 2011 sidelined with injuries. Querrey has had one of the best comebacks this season. However, his record on clay for the year (2-4) is not the most impressive, and the same can be said overall (23-34). It would be quite an accomplishment if he can take a set off the Spanish Ironman, at home and on his choice surface.
In the doubles rubber, Jim Courier can count again on one of the best, if not the best, doubles team in history, as Bob and Mike Bryan will theoretically face Marcel Granollers and Marc López. However, López has injured his leg during the U.S. Open semi-final and was forced to retire, barely able to walk, and his presence was a big question mark until the draw was made today. However, the captains have until one hour before the beginning of the rubber to make a player change, and the possibility of seeing Feliciano López taking Marc’s place is still something possible.
Nevertheless, as it is a best-of-five doubles match, and despite the Spanish duo being quite strong, the Bryans are the favourites to take that rubber, and to delay the inevitable.
My prediction: There will be no U.S. miracle this time, and Spain will reach their fourth final in the last five years, 4-1.