The big news this week came from Philipp Kohlschreiber, who had to withdraw from the tie due to a stomach illness. He is replaced on Team Germany by Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
The draw for the tie took place in Bamberg, Germany. The day before, both Argentina and Germany attended the official dinner:
This R1 tie marks Martin Jaite’s first outing as ARG’s DC coach. Jaite was formerly Nalby’s coach and he shares a friendly rapport with the squad (aka Nalby).
Sartorial issues aside, everyone looks great! I promise, they look great. Well, Germany look great. Ermm … VAMOS ARGENTINA?! It’s the tennis racquets, not the formal-wear, that do the talking of the business, right?
Monaco vs. Petzschner
These two have never played each other. Pico is coming off a winning streak after winning the title at Vina del Mar (breaking a 5-year title drought), while Petzschner’s form has been somewhat streaky as of late. That said, Petzschner has a game that can be tricky. Despite his relatively small frame, Petzsch gets plenty of free points off his serve. The German is also an accomplished doubles player, with an accomplished net game. If he finds his form on Friday, Petzsch could be a tough out.
Honestly, I don’t know who to pin as the favorite for this rubber. I have a feeling it will definitely go to 4-5 sets though, with Pico perhaps taking a hard-fought win.
Nalbandian vs. Mayer
The last time these two met at Shanghai in 2011, Nalby lost in straight sets to Mayer. That said, Mayer has spent the past few weeks recuperating from a hip injury that saw him withdraw from the Oz Open. He could have to contend with rust.
The indoor clay surface does not suit Nalby’s game. Also, Nalby commented that the surface at Stechert Arena is somewhat strange. Add to that the fact that Mayer’s last title came on clay at Bucharest, and suddenly it’s not a stretch to say the surface improves Mayer’s chances for a victory.
I’m hoping the Davis Cup version of Nalby shows up to this match and that he can remain steady both mentally and physically against Mayer’s unconventional game.
Chela/Schwank vs. Haas/Petzschner
It’s surprising that veteran Tommy Haas wasn’t chosen for Germany’s singles rubbers. Then again, given his injury concerns, it may be the safest bet to play him for doubles. From a tennistical perspective, this match will be entertaining as it pits two accomplished doubles teams against each other.
I think the slight edge goes to Team Germany though. Chela/Scwhank lost in R2 to Melzer/Petzschner at the Oz Open. While Melzer/Petzscher are an accomplished, long-term doubles team, I can’t help but think the new pairing of Haas/Petzschner may pull off the win — although I would certainly be glad to be proven wrong here.
If the tie goes live on the third day, the reverse singles will pit Pico against Mayer and Nalby against Petzschner. Mayer defeated Pico on clay last year at the World Team Championship (which is basically the imitation Davis Cup tournament on the ATP tour), so this reverse singles match should be another close one.
As for Nalby-Petzschner, Nalby easily defeated Petzschner in Auckland last year. However, the clay surface could once again hinder Nalby — given how Nalby’s been selected to play the singles rubbers, injuries will also be an ever-present concern.
I don’t know if I’m being too pessimistic about Argentina’s chances here. I guess many things would have to go right in order for Germany to win. However, Argentina is by no means assured this victory. In other words, many things would also have to go right for Argentina to win.
If Argentina could just pull through in Germany, they are guaranteed home advantage for every subsequent tie in 2012 (unless they reached the final and met Switzerland, in which case they would be visitors). This tie in Bamberg is the first and possibly biggest hurdle for ARG.