I posted photos the in the photos thread.
Chucho opens the tie against Koubek.
A full weekend ahead for Acasuso
Last year’s finalist Argentina will be relying on Jose Acasuso to lead them through this weekend's Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round clash, when he takes on the Austrian opponents in both singles and doubles. Acasuso will be first up against Stefan Koubek, who returns to Davis Cup competition after a year's absence, and will team up with Sebastian Prieto on Saturday to take on the established pairing of Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowle. Guillermo Canas also makes his return to the Argentine team as its No. 2 player.
The full draw is as follows:
Stefan Koubek (AUT) v Jose Acasuso (ARG)
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) v Guillermo Canas (ARG)
Jurgen Melzer/Julian Knowle (AUT) v Jose Acasuso/Sebastian Prieto (ARG)
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) v Jose Acasuso (ARG)
Stefan Koubek (AUT) v Guillermo Canas (ARG)
Austria-Argentina could be a classic
When two nations play each other in sport, whatever the context may be, two words come to mind: ‘passion’ and ‘honour’. The 2007 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round tie between Austria and the 2006 runner-up Argentina will most definitely abide by this rule.
Keeping that in mind, the city of Linz, located mid-way between Munich and Vienna, and better known in the world of tennis for its women’s tournament, will undoubtedly be the stage this weekend for what promises to be a classic Davis Cup tie.
It’s always good to start at the beginning. And so we begin with the reason this tie is being played on Austrian soil: simply because the two countries have never played each other and the choice of ground was therefore decided by lot. So in a way, Austria has the upper hand, as they won the first match: the coin toss.
Melzer and Koubek to play singles
The rest of the tie will surely not be decided by chance. Not if Melzer can help it. The six-foot lefty, ranked 30th in the world, is not going to let this opportunity go by: “It’s always nice to play at home, the 5,500 fans will be behind us. They will lift us and if that happens I hope we can get the three points,” says Melzer.
His sidekick Koubek has experience and is also a lefty. The older of the two Austrian players, picked to play singles by Austrian captain Gilbert Schaller, will have the honour of kicking off the festivities/hostilities against Argentina’s No. 1 player this weekend, Jose “Chucho” Acasuso. The two have matched up once in the past. It was in 2004 at Wimbledon, Koubek winning on a much quicker surface than the Greenset Trophy that will be the carpet foundation of this weekend’s tie.
The second rubber will be between Melzer and Guillermo “Willy” Canas, Canas being the most experienced Argentine Davis Cup player of the four men selected by captain Alberto Mancini.
Canas: “This is the restart”
Regarding Canas, currently ranked 107th in the world, let it be known: he’s back. Indeed Canas, suspended for a positive drug test in February 2005 in Acapulco, has struggled and hustled back to a level, not ranking, similar to the one he was at (eighth in the world) just before his suspension. Since September 2006 (the date of his return to the circuit), he’s won five challengers and was runner-up at another. It means a lot to him that Mancini has chosen him to play singles: “This is the restart in my career, my goal is to break the Top 20. After what happened to me, I will most probably be very emotional to represent my country once again,” confessed the Argentine.
The doubles, as of now, will oppose the experienced and successful pair of Melzer and Julian Knowles, ranked 19th and 23rd in the world respectively in doubles, to Sebastian Prieto and Jose Acasuso, who have doubles rankings of 39th and 82nd in the world respectively.
On Sunday, the reverse singles will set up Melzer and Acasuso, their nations’ No. 1 players, followed by what could be a decisive fifth rubber between Koubek and Canas.
Acasuso looking to banish Final pain
Who will be the hero? Will Melzer rise to the occasion and send his team into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, a level of the competition that Austria has not reached since 1995 when they were led by work-horse and recent ex-captain Thomas Muster?
Or could it be Acasuso, who had a painful role in his most recent Davis Cup tie, last year’s final against Russia in Moscow. Chucho was brought in to play the fifth and decisive rubber against Marat Safin, but what happened in that does not need repeating, especially not to Acasuso.
But the hungriest player out there is undoubtedly Willy.