This weekend coming up is one of my favorite times on the ATP tennis calendar: the Davis Cup semifinals. And what's funny is I think I'm the last American die-hard fan of the event.
I wouldn't say I'm overly patriotic or anything, even though I am a big fan of the Olympics. Maybe it's the team camaraderie spirit of it all. Anyway, when I was a kid, playing in the juniors and thinking like all other juniors that I was gonna go pro one day, being named to the U.S. Davis Cup team was my dream--even more so than winning a Slam. I remember thinking my doubles partner and I could make it as a team (we were ranked among the top-five teams in Alabama our last two years in the juniors), but alas, it wasn't meant to be. But Davis Cup is something that's always captivated me, probably from about 1988 on.
Anyway, I think this is the best shot the U.S. has in years to take home the title. I'm not expecting much resistance against Sweden for the guys. It's gonna be a bunch of big hitting in that tie, and I think Blake and Roddick hit a little bit bigger. My only concern about this tie is if Joachim Johansson sneaks into the singles lineup. Davis Cup does some inspirational things to guys who have been injured: Take the Henri Leconte performance in '91, for instance.
On the other side, Russia should be able to sweep Germany on the clay, even though Germany's Phillip Kohlschreiber (he of my Wimbledon-quarterfinal picks fame) has had some decent results on the dirt this year.
I believe the deal is if the U.S. wins and Russia wins, the U.S. hosts the final. The U.S. would travel to Germany if they both win. I never can get those scenarios right!
But aside from the semis, there's some pretty exciting ties on tap in the playoffs, with these being the best ones, in my opinion: Great Britain-Croatia (So long, Tim!); Switzerland-Czech Republic (It's up to Stan the Man Wawrinka to help out R-Fed in his cameo appearance); and Serbia-Australia (I know Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic are up for the challenge; it's gonna come down to their less-heralded teammates not being overcome by the pressure.)
Davis Cup: Gotta love it!