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By Chris Oddo

John Isner participates in Davis Cup Semifinals Tie (September 13, 2012) -- The United States Davis Cup team will face a daunting challenge in its upcoming World Group semifinal with powerhouse Spain, but they wouldn’t want it any other way.

The eleventh tie between the two nations will be played in Gijon, Spain, with the hosts gunning to win their 24th straight home tie dating back to 1999.

“They are a fantastic team; they could make three or four Davis cup teams that would be very good, considering how many players they have,” said American Captain Jim Courier of the Spaniards, who have won 25 consecutive Davis Cup ties on clay.. ““For us this is probably the biggest test in Davis Cup tennis, perhaps for any country to come to Spain and beat them on clay."

The Americans are no stranger to the underdog role in this year's Davis Cup, and they've made their most of their chances against heavily favored teams thus far. They spectacularly overcome the Swiss and the French on red clay in their last two ties, thanks largely to two breakthrough performances from John Isner, who went 4-0 in the two ties with eyebrow-raising wins over Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

But the American effort was not a one-man show against the Swiss or the French by any means. Mike and Bob Bryan went undefeated in both ties to raise their career Davis Cup doubles record to 19-2, including a sparkling 10-0 on the road and 10-1 in ties that have gone to Saturday with a 1-1 split.

The challenge for the Americans, who own an overall 5-5 record against Spain in Davis Cup play, will be to find a way to come away with a victory on Friday to get the Bryans in a position to give them a lead.

Sam Querrey, who is making his first appearance in Davis Cup since 2010, will face David Ferrer in the first rubber on Friday, while John Isner will face Nicolas Almagro in the second.  

“Our team has played in some tough environments before and we expect a tough environment tomorrow,” said Isner, the current World No. 10.  “At the same time we know it is going to be a lot of fun. I am just going to go out there and try to enjoy it. It is going to be a good challenge and it is going to be in front of a big crowd. I don’t think it is going to be anything I’m not used to.”

Notes, Numbers: The U.S. will play on the road for the seventh time in their last eight ties... The U.S. is 1-4 against Spain when playing on the road... Recently retired Andy Roddick finished his Davis Cup career with 33 wins, good for second-most all-time among American players... David Ferrer owns a 14-0 record on clay in Davis Cup competition... Almagro owns a 7-0 record on clay in Davis Cup play...

Argentina Continues Quest for Davis Cup Glory against Czechs

Having lost four consecutive Davis Cup finals and never won the title in its storied history, the Argentines must feel a bit like Andy Murray felt before he played the U.S. Open this year.

If it worked for Murray, maybe it can work for Argentina against the Czechs this weekend in Beunos Aires. But the Czechs, who have not win a Davis Cup title since 1980, are sure to be hungry too.

In the last meeting between these two nations, Juan Martin del Potro forced a fifth rubber when he beat Tomas Berdych in straight sets in Ostrava, setting the stage for the Radek Stepanek to take down Juan Monaco in the deciding rubber in straight sets.

All four players will be back to carry the hopes of their nations this weekend on the red clay at the state-of-the-art Estadio Parque Roca, which was built in 2006. The Czechs know that they can expect to her the thunderous roar of 14,500 tennis-mad fans when they take the court on Friday. The last time the Czechs visited Argentina in 2005, they were blanked 5-0. Tomas Berdych remembers it well.

“I have the experience from a couple of years ago when I experienced one of the toughest crowds in tennis so we will be ready ... we expect it to be really loud but that’s how it is, it is a part of Davis Cup,” said Berdych.

Juan Martin del Potro, who will open play on Friday against Radek Stepanek, has dealt with soreness in his left wrist since mid-August, but Del Potro plans to put aside the pain in favor of helping his country get to the December's Davis Cup final for the second consecutive year.

“I hope my wrist is okay,” he told Craig Gabriel of Daviscup.com in an interview. “Still I am feeling little pain but I will still try to manage the painf and play my best tennis here is Buenos Aires.”

Tomas Berdych will play Juan Monaco in the second rubber on Friday.


Notes, Numbers: The Czechs reached the 2009 Davis Cup final, losing to Spain 5-0 on red clay in Barcelona... Berdych is 5-0 in 2012 in Davis Cup... Del Potro has a 5-2 Davis Cup record on clay with his only losses coming against David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal in last year's final... The Czechs own a 3-1 all-time edge against Argentina but the two nations have split their last two meetings.

(Photo: John Isner competing in the 2012 US Open; Credit: Andy Kentla)

 

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