TURIN. Today at 16 in Turin (TV on SuperTennis) Italy will challenge Croatia in the first of the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup. In case of victory, her opponent in the semifinals – in the Final Four scheduled in Madrid from 3 to 5 December – will be the winner between Kazakhstan and Novak Djokovic’s Serbia, recovered from the two best runners-up. At the top of the scoreboard, on the other hand, the quarters will be played by Russia – who, winning 2-1 yesterday, eliminated Spain and “saved” Djokovic & Co. – against Sweden (the other fished out), and Great Britain against Germany.
Whatever happens, it will be a final phase without the home team: yet another flaw in a sporting wrong format, bizarre from a regulatory point of view and also commercially unsuitable. From 2022 the Finals – with 16 and no longer 18 teams – will then with great probability be transferred to Abu Dhabi and the mess will be accomplished.
But let’s go back to Italy, which has a fair chance of reaching the semifinals for the first time since 2014 (when it was stopped by Federer and Wawrinka’s Switzerland in Geneva). The Croatians are not to be underestimated: in the previous ones they are ahead 2-1 (even if they lost the last one, in Turin, in 2013), in 2018 they won the last old-style edition of the Cup after having already triumphed in 2005, and have a number 1 of great blazon such as 33-year-old Marin Cilic – a Grand Slam won in New York in 2014 and also a finalist at Wimbledon and the Australian Open -, who in the past was number 3 in the world and this year, despite knee troubles, he won two tournaments, on the grass in Stuttgart and a few weeks ago indoors in St. Petersburg. Another strong point is the double, given that Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic are the number 1 and 2 of the specialty, and this year together they have won nine tournaments, including Wimbledon and Olympic gold in Tokyo.
The weak link is the second singles player: so far against Australia and Hungary the Croats have lined up Borna Gojo, n. 276 Atp, and Nino Serdarusic, n.242. Both have brought a very useful point in the two matches of group D, but in today’s opening match they should not be an insurmountable problem for Lorenzo Sonego but watch out for the surprises of the Cup. The key match, 1-0 Italy, would be that between Jannik Sinner and Cilic – who yesterday lost in three sets against the Hungarian surprise Piros – because in the double on paper Croatia will start favorites both against the veterans Fognini-Bolelli and against the other two “experimental” couples tried by captain Volandri in these days (Fognini-Musetti and Fognini-Sinner). «It will be a tough match – explains the blue coach – Cilic is a great player that Davis has already won and knows how to withstand such pressure, moreover their double is very strong. We respect everyone, but we are not afraid of anyone ».
The calendar of quarters
Italy-Croatia, Turin, today at 16
Germany-Great Britain, Innsbruck, 30 November at 4 pm
Kazakhstan-Serbia, Madrid, 1 December at 4pm
Russia-Sweden, Madrid, 2 December at 4pm