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Rediff.com  » Sports » Big guns in action for Davis Cup quarters

Big guns in action for Davis Cup quarters

April 09, 2008 16:33 IST

Andy Roddick's rare victory over world number one Roger Federer last week has boosted his confidence in time for this weekend's Davis Cup quarter-finals where he will pilot holders the United States against France.

Eight of the world's top 10 players will line up for the four ties being played from Friday to Sunday.

The Americans will stick to the familiar line-up of world number six Roddick, world number eight James Blake and the top-ranked doubles partnership of Bob and Mike Bryan for their tie at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

It is the 10th tie in a row that captain Patrick McEnroe has played the same team that delivered the United States their first Davis Cup in 12 years when they beat Russia in December.

"I'm excited to get out there and try to defend our title," said Roddick, noting the Winston-Salem crowd helped lift the US to a quarter-final victory last year over Spain.

"They're loud, that's for sure. We have a tough opponent in France, and I'm sure they're going to realise that and we'll probably need them," added Roddick, who beat Federer in the quarter-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open last week.

France will attempt to dethrone the champions with world number 10 Richard Gasquet, this year's Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Paul-Henri Mathieu and doubles dynamo Michael Llodra.

BIGGEST TITLE

A confident world number four, Nikolay Davydenko, who won his biggest career title in Miami, will lead the Russians against the Czech Republic in Moscow.

Davydenko will be helped by Dmitry Tursunov, Igor Andreev and Mikhail Youzhny, the latter who made headlines in Miami when he repeatedly hit his head with his racket in anger at missing a shot, drawing blood that dripped down his forehead.

The Russians, who have won the Davis Cup title twice in the last seven years, have not lost a home tie since 1998.

Nevertheless, Davydenko, did not sound too confident of breaking Russia's 4-4 standoff with the Czech Republic.

"I don't know if I can play clay court now against Czech Republic because I am feeling good but it's a different surface," Davydenko said after his Miami win.

Miami semi-finalist Tomas Berdych, ranked ninth in the world, will be the principal force behind the Czechs' efforts along with Radek Stepanek, Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner.

After sitting out the first round, world number two Rafael Nadal returns to spearhead Spain's campaign for a third Davis Cup title, joining number five David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez for their trip to Germany.

"We have a complete team," said Nadal. "So we hope to have the chance to be in the semi-finals and finally play at home after a long time."

The Germans, who lead Spain 9-4 in past Davis Cup meetings, are likely to feel understaffed against Spain without a top 10 player of their own in their team of Philipp Kohlschreiber, Nicolas Kiefer, Michael Berrer, and Philipp Petzschner.

In the weekend's other quarter-final, Argentina host Sweden.

Argentina will field a strong team of world number seven David Nalbandian, Guillermo Canas, Juan Monaco and Jose Acasuso when they host Sweden's team of Robin Soderling, Jonas Bjorkman, Thomas Johansson and Robert Lindstedt.

Sweden captain Mats Wilander knows playing Argentina at home on clay will be a daunting task, telling Reuters: "Argentina are the favourites for sure but I think we have a better chance this time than we did (playing there) in 2006."

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