Rafael Nadal didn’t play in Barcelona this week, but that hasn’t stopped the Spanish from going deep into the tournament. Rafa’s Davis Cup teammates, Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer will face off in Saturday’s semifinals at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell. According to the ATP, this guarantees a Spaniard in the final for the 14th consecutive year. In the other semi, Robin Soderling is playing the 21-year-old World No. 67 Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands. De Bakker took out No. 3 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals. He looked pretty stunned, afterwards:
Some highlights from Friday:
Click here for Barcelona TV schedule.
AP Photo/Dave Martin via Daylife
On the ladies side, it’s all about Fed Cup. The two World Group Semifinals are the main events.
Team USA takes on Russia in Birmingham, Alabama. Here’s the schedule for the weekend:
Melanie Oudin (USA) v Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) v Elena Dementieva (RUS)
Melanie Oudin (USA) v Elena Dementieva (RUS)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) v Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)
Liezel Huber / Bethhanie Mattek-Sands (USA) v Elena Dementieva / Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
Click here for the Fed Cup TV schedule.
Captain Mary-Joe Fernandez is trying to calm the controversy around the Williams sisters non-participation:
Q. I am gonna be the one to ask the kind of obnoxious question. Is it distracting at all to hear about the people who aren’t here? Really it’s affected both teams, people who aren’t here. Has that been a distraction or business as usual for you all?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Business as usual. You know, we have our core team. We’ve played a lot together already the last year and a half. Everyone gels really well and has great chemistry. We said earlier in the week it would have been a bonus to have one or both of the Williams sisters here obviously. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. But this is what we’re used to. This is what we know and this is what we love. Melanie said well last night: We’ve become a family. These weeks are very special, and we give it our all to represent our country the best we can and play our best.
Defending Fed Cup champs Team Italia take on the Czech Republic in the other World Group Semi in Rome. Here’s the line up:
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs. Lucie Hradecka (CZE)
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) vs. Lucie Safarova (CZE)
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) v. Lucie Safarova (CZE)
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) v. Lucie Hradecka (CZE)
Sara Errani/ Roberta Vinci (ITA) v. Petra Kvitova/Kveta Peschke (CZE)
And in big time World Group play off action, the stellar Belgium team of Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Yanina Wickmayer and Kirsten Flipkens are playing the Estonians in Belgium.
REUTERS/Yves Herman via Daylife
Oh, and since I often give top players grief for not participating, let me credit Jelena Jankovic for leading Serbia vs. the Slovaks and Sam Stosur for heading up the Australian effort against the Ukraine. Way to represent, gals!
REUTERS/Gleb Garanich via Daylife
Click here to follow the action on FedCup.com