Let’s break it down:
Spain vs. Kazakhstan (Indoor Clay)
Team Spain: Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Marc Lopez.
Team Kazakhstan: Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev, Yuri Schukin and Evgeny Korolev.
Even a 2nd string Spanish team will have too much game for the Kazakhs. JC Ferrero is a welcome return to the team for his old buddy and new captain Alex Corretja. Kukushkin is riding high from this Australian Open run but Golubev has been seriously out of form for a guy that won Hamburg a couple years ago. Almagro should be able to step up and win his 2 rubbers with ease.
Austria vs.Russia (Indoor Hard)
Team Austria: Jurgen Melzer, Andreas Haider-Maurer, Alexander Peya and Oliver Marach.
Team Russia: Alex Bogomolov Jr., Mikhail Youzhny, Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Kunitsyn.
Zagreb champion and Davis Cup stalwart Youzhny will look to continue his form with newly with double agent Alex Bogomolov. Austria’s Melzer is struggling but can’t be written off and they bring a strong doubles outfit. The Russians should win comfortably here.
Canada vs. France (Indoor Hard)
Team Canada: Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic and Daniel Nestor.
Team France: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.
Canada have enough talent to give the French a fright, mixing youth with age but France look too strong. Raonic and Pospisil will have the crowd right behind them and old man Nestor will be ready to clip the wings of the French. Monfils and Tsonga should take care of business.
Switzerland vs.USA (Indoor Clay)
Team Switzerland: Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.
Team USA: Mardy Fish, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and Mike Bryan.
The blockbuster tie of the round includes Federer in his native country and I expect this to go to the last rubber. Wawrinka and Fed need to pull off a doubles win and hope Stan is the Man in his singles. Long John Isner could be the deciding factor in this one since he can play on clay.
Czech Rep vs.Italy (Indoor Hard)
Team Czech Republic: Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Lukas Rosol and Frantisek Cermak.
Team Italy: Simone Bolelli, Daniele Bracciali, Andreas Seppi and Potito Starace.
Berdych and Stepanek look too strong to risk an upset here, especially on hard courts. Italy do boast doubles specialist, the veteran Bracciali who could be a factor, but I see the Czechs keeping a clean sheet and only needing to use their 2 main players.
Serbia vs. Sweden (Indoor Hard)
Team Serbia: Janko Tipsarevic, Viktor Troicki, Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic:
Team Sweden: Michael Ryderstedt, Carl Bergman, Filip Prpic and Robert Lindstedt.
Serbia won’t need Djokovic to take care of business here. Sweden are still without Soderling and while they might put up some resistance in the doubles, this looks a whitewash to me.
Japan vs. Croatia (Indoor Hard)
Team Japan: Kei Nishikori, Go Soeda, Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita.
Team Croatia: Ivan Dodig, Ivo Karlovic, Antonio Veic and Lovro Zovko.
Japan could pull this one off. Challenger warriors Ito and Soeda are in great form and Nishikori brings top 20 level game. The Croats field an injury weakened team and look vulnerable. Ivan Dodig has played better so Karlovic could be the deciding factor one way or another.
Germany vs. Argentina (Indoor Clay)
Team Germany: Florian Mayer, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Philipp Petzschner and Tommy Haas.
Team Argentina: Juan Ignacio Chela, Juan Monaco, David Nalbandian andEduardo Schwank.
A new cosy regime in the Argentine camp now with new captains & former players Martin Jaite (Nalbandian old coach) and Mariano Zabaleta (Juan Monaco’s coach). A tough opener though in Germany. The two Phillips are playing well and Florian Mayer is tricky at best for any top player. Juan Monaco brings good form on clay after winning in Chile and could be the deciding factor. Tommy Haas makes the team but will most likely keep warm on the bench.