09 Feb 2006 - Medialuna Monumental of Rancagua, Rancagua, CHI - Rodrigo Valdebenito
Gonzalez begins Chilean quest for quarterfinals
The draw has been made for the Chile v Slovak Republic tie in Rancagua and is as follows:
Order of Play
Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) v Michal Mertinak (SVK)
Nicolas Massu (CHI) v Dominik Hrbaty (SVK)
Fernando Gonzalez/Nicolas Massu (CHI) v Dominik Hrbaty/Michal Mertinak (SVK)
Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) v Dominik Hrbaty (SVK)
Nicolas Massu (CHI) v Michal Mertinak (SVK)
Fernando Gonzalez will begin his country’s quest for their first Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal spot since 1982. The hard-hitting Chilean will face Michal Mertinak in the first singles in Rancagua on Friday when the hosts take on last year’s finalist the Slovak Republic.
A mystery is solved
One of the key issues of the tie was whether Tibor Toth - acting as the Slovak captain in the absence of regular captain Miloslav Mecir, who could not fly due to a back injury -would use Michal Mertinak as the second singles player for Friday.
Mertinak only arrived on Tuesday afternoon in sunny Rancagua, where hot and dry weather and a slow clay court produce very different conditions from the indoor tournaments he has played in Europe. It was thought that perhaps Toth would choose Lukas Lacko, a rising young player, and reserve Mertinak for the doubles and the final singles, and the Slovak captain himself had not wanted to comment on the issue earlier. At the draw however the name of Mertinak appeared as second singles player for the Slovak Republic.
“I had my doubts (about the second Slovak singles player),” said Hans Gildemeister, the Chilean captain. “He (Mertinak) was playing indoors and now will have to face the heat. Fernando must take advantage of that match.”
Gonzalez had said earlier that it felt normal not to know for sure who he would play on Friday. “It happens all the time in the tour, so it’s no problem. We have to win, whoever we play against”.
Massú had similar feelings about having to play the second singles: “It’s the same. It has no importance whatsoever to play the first or the second match. You have to face the same opponent anyway on the same day”.
The Chilean team had a bit of trouble during their practise days. González has a sore shoulder, but it seems to be merely muscle fatigue. Massú, on the other hand, had to play the final of the Viña del Mar tournament on Sunday night, so he practised very lightly during Monday and Tuesday, increasing his workload on Wednesday.
Former favourites, current underdogs
The Slovak Republic reached the final of last year’s Davis Cup, but now the nation is clearly not the favourite against Chile, who play at home on their favorite surface, red clay. However Hrbaty, Mertinak and the rest of the team are ready for the challenge.
“I don’t know where the rumours came from” said Michal Mertinak. “I am physically fit for the tie, and will do my best against González. He is No. 15 in the world, playing at home on his favourite surface. A win over him would be a surprise, and I have nothing to lose.”
Dominik Hrbaty has faith in his team mate. “Michal has good tactics against González, so he can do a good job.” About Massú, his opponent for Friday, Hrbaty was very clear. “I know all about him and he knows all about me. It will be an interesting match”.
Related Davis Cup news on other websites
> Informacion en espanol - FTCH
> Slovak Tennis Association - www.stz.sk
Related Links on Daviscup.com
> Tie Information for CHI v SVK
> Scorecards and statistics CHI v SVK