Romania and Spain will meet in the second round of Group I Europe/Africa of the Davis Cup competition on the weekend of 15-17 July in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The venue which will hold the tie is the Sala Polivalenta, and the surface chosen by the Romanian team is hard. An indoor event which will hold just the fourth ever meetings between the two teams.
Last time the two teams played against each other was in the 1975 Europe semifinal where home team Spain secured a close 3-2 win. It is worth mentioning though that all three previous meetings were played on clay courts, and the surface chosen by Andrei Pavel, Romania’s captain, was meant to favor the Romanian team. If Romania will get their second win over Spain’s team on an indoor hard court, it will be interesting to see how that will translate on to the singles matches.
Romania will look to produce the surprise
For this tie, the Romanian team captain, Andrei Pavel, put together the best players he could have possibly choosen. For the singles he nominated Marius Copil, number 174 in the singles ranking and Adrian Ungur, number 187. When taking a look at the big difference in the rankings between Romania’s and Spain’s singles player the gap is a big one.
The Spaniards are the obvious favorites from this point of view, but Andrei Pavel thinks that there will be another important factor to look at, and that is the crowd support.
He explained that, “taking into account the manner in which the public supported Romania's Fed Cup team, a team which played some great matches at the Polyvalent Hall. We hope that Romania's men's team will be supported as frantically and this motivates us once more. We are aware that we have a difficult competition ahead of us, but we shall give our best to play motivated to win, which would mean a great deal to the Romanian tennis, to the Romanian sports in general."
Romania’s biggest relying factor in this tie is the doubles team. As Feliciano Lopez mentioned at the presentation of the teams’ press conference, both Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau are very good in doubles, so the match will be a complicated one. Mergea and Tecau play separated in the male’s circuit, Mergea partnering with Rohan Bopanna and Tecau with Jean-Julien Rojer. However, the two have played together in the past and this season have reunited to prepare for the Rio Olympics. Moreover, they have won the Bucharest title in April. A point won in the doubles by the Romanians may be crucial for their fate in this tie.
Spain is looming as the favorite
With both Rafael Nadal (left wrist injury sustained at Roland Garros) and David Ferrer missing the tie, Conchita Martinez, the team captain, nominated Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carrero Busta, Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez as the best next players to count on. Even with such important misses, Spain’s is the favorite in this tie. Its better-ranked singles players and a strong doubles team are putting them on the front line to take this tie with great confidence. However, on the other hand, such a situation might bring a lot of pressure. Regarding this, Conchita Martinez has tried to make clear the fact that she trusts her team and that they will have to forget about the pressure and just give the best they can to secure their spot in the World Group play-offs.
The blockbuster and possibly the decisive encounter in this tie is the doubles. Mergea and Tecau form a very strong team with great communication, each covering each other’s weaknesses. But, Spain’s doubles, Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez, made just their second appearance together at a Grand Slam event this year at Roland Garros and they managed to win it and become the first all-Spanish team since 1990 to win the Roland Garros title after beating the Bryan brother in the final. This fact will make an even more interested match-up we’ll get to see this Saturday.
Prediction: Spain d. Romania 3-2.