Davis Cup

It looks like a mouthwatering contest between two big nations in the world of tennis. Switzerland and defending champions Czech Republic do battle this weekend at Palexpo Arena on a medium slow indoor hard court, but unfortunately this Davis Cup encounter will see neither team at full strength.

Roger Federer is not taking part as he prefers to concentrate on his individual career and I think this is a shame for the Davis Cup as a whole. This team competition always brings about some incredibly passionate and exciting tennis, with players giving their all for their countries and I think that the Swiss media have been right to criticise the great man, Federer, in this instance. Swiss number 2 Stanislas Wawrinka has had an amazing start to the year and if Federer were willing to be part of the team Switzerland would surely be one of the favourites to win the tournament.

As it is Wawrinka (world number 17) is almost in a one-man team as the rest of the team are generally lacking in experience, ability, fitness or form.

Number 2 for Switzerland is Marco Chiudinelli (ranked 139), a capable player who’s career has sadly been hit by a number of back and shoulder injuries. The 31 year-old has had a poor start to the year failing to qualify for the Australian Open and the last time he won a main-draw match was back in October. He’s an attacking player who likes to come into the net and therefore he will probably find conditions a little too slow for his liking. His highest ranking was 52 back in 2010.

Number 3 for the home team is Henri Laaksonen (ranked 289), a decent prospect with a strong forehand, who I saw in action at the Geneva Challenger at the end of last year. He’s only 20 years old and needs more experience at the top level. He seems to handle pressure pretty well so hopefully he will have the chance to shine at some stage over the weekend.

Number 4 is Michael Lammer (ranked 357) and he certainly fits the definition of a journeyman pro. He’s now 30 years old and has never been ranked higher than 150. I don’t think he will have much involvement in this match.

The Czech team are without the inspirational Radek Stepanek who won the decisive match for them at the end of last season so will be relying mostly on world number 6 Tomas Berdych. Berdych is a class player who can be very good playing indoors and if he gets to play against Wawrinka I expect a highly contest where the winner would be difficult to predict. Wawrinka would be the outsider but home support and the slow nature of the courts may help him to get the win.

The Czech number 2 is the talented but unpredictable 25 year-old Lukas Rosol (ranked 73). He’s a big hitter who took out Rafael Nadal at last year’s Wimbledon in great style. A lot depends on him this weekend. If he’s on form you’d expect him to beat the Swiss number 2 Chiudinelli, but if he’s miss-firing he could be the weak link in the Czech line-up.

The other players in the Czech team are 28 year-old Ivo Minar (ranked 192) and 19 year-old Jiri Vessely (ranked 272) who are both unlikely to play singles this weekend.

Overall I predict a tight contest here that will go down to the last match on Sunday afternoon. On Friday Wawrinka and Berdych should win their singles matches comfortably. Saturday will see a crucial doubles match where I expect Thomas Berdych to show his class to partner one of his team-mates (probably Rosol) to victory. Then on Sunday there will be the big singles match between Wawrinka and Berdych. I will certainly be cheering for Stan in that match and, as I mentioned, I think he can win this match against Berdych. That would leave decisive match match between Chiudinelli and Rosol where I would expect the Czech player to show his class and get the win and keep the Czech’s hands on their trophy.

As I mentioned the Swiss team will be relying on home support to have a chance in this tie, so hopefully the fans will not be feeling too bad after forking out 249 CHF for the cheapest tickets! This ticket gives access to the arena throughout the weekend.

Some 200 tickets are still available for the weekend and the Swiss tennis federation are now selling some tickets at half-price. If your lucky you may be able to get hold of tickets for Friday or Sunday for 62 CHF or Saturday for 49 CHF.

Call 0900 64 61 64 or visit http://daviscup.showare.ch/General/ShoWareFrontEndHome.aspx to get tickets to this weekend’s event.

Simon Russell is the editor of tennisessence.com a tennis dedicated site which also offers betting tips entirely free of charge. Whether you are an investor or a fan of sport tennisessence.com will have something of interest to you. Also keep up to date with the site by following on twitter @simon_tennis and liking on facebook.