It’s Davis Cup time, everyone! My only complaint about Davis Cup is that it’s impossible to WATCH all of it. Yes, I’ll be tuning into Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryans this weekend on Tennis Channel (click here for the schedule), but I also want to watch Spain vs. Serbia and France vs. Czech Republic! Let me know if you find a live stream.
Good thing we don’t need television or a hijacked internet feed to enjoy the next best thing about Davis Cup: cute guys in track suits.
So. . .please join me on a pictorial tour of Davis Cup first-round weekend.
United States vs. Switzerland
The U.S. team has won 12 of its last 13 ties when its played at home. If Roger Federer had shown in Birmingham, he might have made a dent in that impressive record. Without him, Team U.S.A.’s got it in the bag. Sorry, Stan Wawrinka.
But who’s winning Track Suit Wars?
The tried and true team of red, white and blue? Go U.S.A.!
Or this dapper group? (Love the white pants.) That kind of hot guy second in from the right is Marco Chiudinelli, a.k.a. “not Roger Federer.” Marco has a surprisingly good record in Davis Cup for a guy ranked 341 in the world. He defeated both Verdasco and Ferrer in an opening-round tie between Switzerland and Spain back in February of 2007, shortly before a knee injury put him out of commission for two years. Hey, it’s something.
No idea what’s goin’ on here, but it reminds me of a Chevy Chase movie for some reason: National Lampoon’s Davis Cup Vacation!
U.S.A./Switzerland photos: Ron Angle
Serbia vs. Spain
This is the one! We have Dubai champ Novak Djokovic and Janko “too much Kant” Tipsarevic heading a strong Serb team against the Spanish Armada, led by Rafael Nadal (and David Ferrer) in Benidorm, Spain. (Note: Friday’s play is postponed because of strong winds.)
Okay, back to business:
Here’s everyone – poor Janko looks like he’s thinking too hard, again.
Love this photo – it’s so Fellini-esque. Of course, F-Lo knows that, too: “The camera loves me, no?”
Grinning and bearing it. Looks like these two are engaged in some clandestine arm wrestling – careful, Novak, Rafa’s got you right where he wants you!
Spain/Serbia photos: Sergio Carmona
Russia vs. Romania
MARAT-ALERT! Safin’s a Davis Cup stalwart and part of me hopes that he ends his career bringing the cup back to Russia. The first step to Marat’s big finale is beating the Romanians in Sibiu, Romania, along with teammates Youzhny (the other singles player) and Tursunov/Gabashvili. Andrei Pavel is the captain of the underdog Romanian team, with Victor Hanescu the only recognizable name on the roster. Just in case Romania pulls off the upset, I’ve included some extra photos of Marat practicing – we must savor every Marat moment that comes our way. You’re welcome!
Tursunov: “Hey! I’m cute too, right?”
Careful, Pavel, Shamil’s planting some sort of surveillance device on you.
This is exactly how I’d look at Marat, too, if he was sitting that close to me. Swoon!
“No! No! What was I thinking? I can’t retire! Freaky Frites will miss me way too much!”
So the man can’t dance – nobody’s perfect.
Marat’s a proud graduate of Adidas University – at least that’s what his shirt says.
Even the soccer ball is in love with him.
Don’t know what he’s doing but he looks great doing it!
Russia/Romania photos: Arne Forsell, Mihai Barbu and
France vs. Czech Republic
I’d really like to see this one. We have the “New Musketeers” – Simon, Tsonga, Gasquet, and Llodra (read my Ode here) meeting the strong Czech team of Berdych, Stepanek, Hernych and Dlouhy on carpet in Ostrava. I’d love France to prevail, but this is a signature Davis Cup toss-up.
Love them all! Even Guy.
AH! This is my favorite Tsonga photo of all-time. Tres Godard.
It’s best to keep the Czech team at arm’s length, at least if you take Henman’s word for it, (Hint: Google “Henman + niffy” and see what you get.)
Sorry Richard, you just can’t out-smolder Michael Llodra. Nice try, though.
France/Czech Republic photos: Antoine Couvercelle
The Netherlands vs. Argentina
Nalbandian’s sick with a virus (much like Andy Murray, who is out of his Zonal tie in Great Britain) and Del Potro‘s sitting this one out for the good of his career, because of an injury and/or to nurse bruised feelings. Which leaves my all-time favorite South American cutie, Juan Monaco, along with not-so-cute Juan-Ignacio Chela to lead the Argentines on clay in Buenos Aires. None of the current members of this Argentine squad played in last year’s notorious Davis Cup final against Spain, including the new Captain Tito Vasquez. They’re still huge favorites against the star-starved squad from the Netherlands, whose top player, Jesse Huta Galung, is ranked 188 in the world.
Team Netherlands is looking confident in their track suits, at least. Gotta fake it to make it, fellas!
Guys, the track suits only work when everyone’s wearing matching bottoms. This is not a good sign of team discipline, Captain!
Argentina/Netherlands photos: Sergio Llamera
Chile vs. Croatia
Gonzo’s pulled out with a back injury, leaving Nicolas “double Gold medalist” Massu and Paul Capdeville to lead Chile into Croatia. And they’ll need a gold medal effort to beat the home-team, which stars Marin Cilic, Mario Ancic and “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic.
I’d have a beer with Massu, anytime.
There’s a problem with scale going on here. Ancic is 6’5″ and still looks short compared to Ivo. The two guys to Ivo’s left might as well be dwarfs.
Austria vs. Germany
We’ve got Rainer Schuettler and James McAvoy look-alike Philipp Kohlscheiber going against guys like Stefan Koubek and Jurgen Melzer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. (That’s in Germany, by the way.) Quick, cut to the track suits:
Nothing much to say about Team Austria. . .
. . .or Team Germany.
Photos Austria/Germany: GEPA
Israel vs. Sweden
Don’t even get me started on Malmo, Sweden’s lame-ass decision to ban fans from the stadium during the Israel vs. Sweden tie while the protesters roam free outside. What a farce. Anyway, this tie’s a toss up and nobody’s going to watch it, which makes me feel bad for the players. They all look happy enough in their track suits, though:
Is that guy in the upper left corner really a tennis player for Team Israel? I’m betting he’s someone’s cousin/bodyguard.
The Swedes, looking Swedish.
Photographer: Arne Forsell
In closing: Go team U.S.A.!!! Go Stan Wawrinka! Go Marat! Go Nadal! Go Monaco! Go Tipsarevic!
And click here to visit the indispensable Davis Cup website.