I know I said I'd give my final thoughts on the Sony Ericsson Open next time I posted, but we all know the champs—Serena, Nik Davydenko, the Bryan Bros. and Sugiyama/Srebotnik—so I'm moving on to my favorite time of the year: the Davis Cup! As one of the few Davis Cup fans out there, I feel sometimes, I have to do all I can to champion it. But this year's quarterfinal round should need no extra campaigning because it might be one of the best ever with a slew of top 10 players on the ATP tour competing. Here's my thoughts on what I think will be the most intriguing matches on day 1 (as per tie)
Marat Safin (RUS) vs. Tomas Berdych (CZE): Now logic dictates that a young player (Berdych) coming off one of the best results he's had in almost a year, should be able to take out a former number 1 (Safin, pictured) mired in a horrible slump. But if you've followed Davis Cup at all, you know crazy things tend to happen. That being said, I'm picking Safin: The home crowd will be behind him, which I think will definitely rattle Berdych; he obviously must have done something good in practice this week, forgoing the captain to put him in this spot; and he's Marat Safin! He can beat anyone any time if he's focused.
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) vs. David Ferrer: Now everyone knows I always pick my man Phil in matches even though it might not be the way to go. But I'm gonna have to go with him here (seen here clowning with teammate Nicolas Kiefer, right, at practice) in the upset as he's playing at home on a fast hard court. Ferrer will fight tooth and nail on anything, but I think he comes up short in this one.
David Nalbandian (ARG) vs. Thomas Johansson (SWE): Johansson is a gamer, and is capable of shocking anyone. But that won't be the case this time: Nalbandian (pictured practicing) should win this one pretty handily. A question for anyone out there: Why can't Swedish pros play on clay anymore?
Andy Roddick (USA) vs. Michael Llodra (FRA): Injuries on the French side wrecked this dream quarterfinal tie, with both Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both out. However, Llodra should be able to push Roddick (right) around some. Still, I expect A-Rod to get through.
I sure heart Davis Cup!
(Photos: Safin, Nalbandian, Roddick-Getty Images; Kohlschreiber-AP)