Davis Cup World Group Preview: Germany - Czech Republic

Davis Cup World Group Preview: Germany - Czech Republic

Germany takes on a strong Czech Republic team in the first round of the Davis Cup in Hannover, Germany. Both teams are looking to make it to the quarterfinals once again after failing to do so last year.

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Pavitra Ganesan

The two teams have fielded their strongest players, most notably the Czech Republic who have world number seven, Tomas Berdych back in their side, for the first round tie which will be played on an indoor hard court. Germany leads the head-to-head record 10-4, but the latest win was in 2005 from competing on a clay court.

The German Team

Germany during the draw | Photo courtesy of: DeutscherTennisBund on Twitter
Germany during the draw | Photo courtesy of: DeutscherTennisBund on Twitter

The team is led by Michael Kohlmann and includes the experienced Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philip Petzschner. Dustin Brown returns to the team after playing in last year's edition. 18-year-old Alexander Zverev completes the team and is nominated for the first time following his strong showing this year which saw him reach his career high ranking of 56. With three players in their thirties in the team, the Germans would look to tap on experience and current form to boost their chances.

Experienced Kohlschreiber is their best singles player in terms of ranking at 30 and would be starting off the tie against Lukas Rosol. In the reverse singles rubber, he faces Berdych. Playing in his 16th tie for his country, the German holds a 14-9 record in the singles. This past month, Kohlschreiber has reached quarterfinals or better in the three tournaments he has entered in.

Teenager Zverev makes his debut on day one of the tie against Berdych. Following up on a good 2015, Zverev's decent and consistent start to the year has allowed him to steadily climb the rankings. Having beaten two top 20 players in the space of one month, this would also give the youngster confidence to take on a strong Czech side.

Brown first played in the Davis Cup when he was just 19 but did not play thereafter until last year. In that too, Brown lost the only singles rubber he competed in. Looking at form, the German recently reached the semifinals in Montpellier before losing out to eventual champion, Richard Gasquet.

Petzschner is another veteran who first played in 2007. He returns again to play in the doubles rubber alongside Dustin Brown subject to changes in nominations. The doubles specialist has reached three finals in 2016 alone.

The Czech Team

Czech team | Photo courtesy of: Czech Davis Cup team facebook
Czech team | Photo courtesy of: Czech Davis Cup Team's Facebook

The 2013 champions have star player Berdych to lead the singles charge. Joining him is Lukas Rosol, who is nominated in both the singles rubber. Jiri Vesely and Radek Stepanek make up the rest of a very solid Czech squad captained by Jaroslav Navratil.

World number seven Berdych has had a great start to 2016 reaching the quarterfinals or better in all tournaments including the Australian Open. The four losses he suffered so far were against the world number one and three and to a potent Nick Kyrgios twice. The Czech has tons of Davis Cup experience under his belt, having already played in 28 ties.

Rosol is playing in his 12th tie for his country and has had a mixed start to the year. Last year, the Czech lost both his singles rubber as the Czechs bowed out in the first round to Australia. He would be hoping for better results this year as he is due to play both of the singles. 

Vesely also returns from the 2015 squad looking to help his country reach the quarterfinals. He did not do as well in the singles this year never moving past first or second rounds and so has been nominated to play in the doubles with Stepanek.

Stepanek is called into the team to lend his doubles prowess. The veteran has almost as much experience as Berdych having played 24 ties thus far. The 37-year-old has only lost four doubles matches out of 23 played in the Davis Cup and recently was the doubles' finalist in Melbourne.

Order Of Play

Rubber 1: Kohlschreiber vs Rosol
Rubber 2: Zverev vs Berdych
Rubber 3: Brown/Petzschner vs Stepanek/Vesely
Rubber 4: Kohlschreiber vs Berdych
Rubber 5: Zverev vs Rosol

Analysis

Berdych, who is usually better indoors and also the one with the most experience, looks to have an edge over the rest. He holds an overwhelming 8-1 record over Kohlschreiber but with both players coming in on good form, it could be an interesting match up. The German has a winning record against Rosol and would look to that to help the tie. If Zverev maintains his form, he could trouble both the Czech players even though he has losing records against them. And it might come down to the doubles match proving the difference, but since both teams have doubles specialists on their sides, it could go either way. The third day would then be crucial to decide who emerges victorious to set up a meeting with either Canada or France in the quarterfinals. The 10-4 record does not look like it will play a factor against a strong Czech side. But with the form of the German players, they could pose a danger or two resulting in a close contest.

Prediction: Czech Republic to win, 3-2

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