We are headed for an Olympic clash in Glasgow, as Del Potro and Murray headline the teams’ nominations ahead of the semi-finals, with the second semi-final between Croatia and France, to be held in Zadar, Croatia.
The Brits won a tricky semi-final in the rain in Serbia and Argentina reached their 11th semi-final in the last 15 years with a 3-1 win over Italy, with their main man being Federico Delbonis with two singles wins and Del Potro returning to the competition in the doubles.
Since then the Tower of Tandil’s tour return has enthralled fans everywhere as he came back against the odds after years in the tennis wilderness thanks to recurring wrist injuries. There had been comebacks, and setbacks – rinse and repeat.
However a first round stunning win against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Rio 2016 Olympics helped set Del Potro on a course to face Murray in the Olympic final. Although the Brit prevailed to become the first player in history to defend an Olympic Tennis title, it was a taste of things to come.
Del Potro’s form continued, with the former champion having been granted a wildcard into the US Open, where he finally came unstuck at the hands of eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
Murray’s progress through the US Open had been far less troubled than some of his Slam forays (Roland Garros, anyone?) but a quarter-final clash with an inspired Kei Nishikori, a malfunctioning sound system and a persistent butterfly all contributed to a quarter-final loss and the Brit has been preparing this week with the team.
Last year, Great Britain overcame Belgium to win the Davis Cup for a 10th time, ending a 79-year wait for the trophy since 1936 where the legendary Fred Perry and Bunny Austin were the stars of the team. Great Britain is the only nation that has participated in all the editions of the competition since 1900, although back in the day they competed as the British Isles until 1912.
In 2015 they beat USA in the first round, France in the quarter-finals and Australia in the semi-finals before defeating the Belgians on home turf (or, as the case was indoor clay). Britain won four times on the trot between 1903-1905 and between 1933-1936.
For Argentina it would be another chance to try and be victorious – they have been finalists five times (1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011) but are yet to be crowned champions and join Romania and India as nations having contested the final more than once without winning. Alas a stat not to be proud of, Argentina are the only one of those nations to have lost it four times.
Team Head to Head
Before Brits get too excited about the prospect of another final in the bag, GB trail the visitors 1-3. The most recent encounter was in 2008, in the World Group first round, with a 4-1 loss away. Argentina dominated GB in Buenos Aires without the loss of a set in the live rubbers – in a team without either Murray or Del Potro in the singles.
Obviously we can count on Andy Murray to be the No. 1 Singles pick, and to team up with brother Jamie, the new US Open doubles champion for what is often the most crucial part of the tie. But British tennis is in rude health at the moment with great runs at the US Open for both Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund who are now just two places apart in the rankings (Evans WR53, Edmund WR55).
Edmund found himself in the position of carrying the British team at the quarter-final, picking up his first Davis Cup victory against Janko Tipsarevic, and then sealing the win against Dusan Lajovic. Dominic Inglot, partnering Jamie Murray, also picked up his first win as the Brits took a step closer to defending their title.
Evans has proved himself in the days when Britain was clambering up again through the group stages, most notably helping turn around the team’s fortunes after going 0-2 down and along with James Ward pulled off two outstanding wins together with the doubles to help get Britain to the World Group play-offs.
His change in attitude and the hard work has now started paying off, earning him a third round encounter and a chance to serve for the match against eventual US Open champion Wawrinka. He loves the big occasion and all the tapestry that goes with being part of the Team GB set up.
Edmund picked up his best Slam run to date and also arrives with a lot of newly instilled Davis Cup confidence. It is a great issue for GB Captain Leon Smith to have as to who he opts for.
On the Argentinian side it is hard to see how they cannot pick Del Potro for a singles rubber. Del Potro is back up to No. 64 in the world (a jump of 78 after the US Open but still lags last in the list of their nominees with Leonardo Mayer and Delbonis with two wins each this year.
Great Britain (Captain: Leon Smith)
Argentina (Captain: Daniel Orsanic)
Juan Martin Del Potro
Where is being held and Start Times
The Davis Cup semi-final is being held at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow. The start times are:
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