Novak Djokovic’s two recent defeats after a 22-match winning streak offer the United States hope of seeing off Serbia in the Davis Cup quarter-finals.
The mere presence of the top-ranked Djokovic makes Serbia the slight favourite, but the Americans chose to play on an indoor hard-court at altitude in Boise, Idaho, to give their big servers a boost.
It’s a bonus to the US that Djokovic has appeared vulnerable in the past month, with two defeats in his last four matches.
However, he appears to have brushed them off this week, saying: “I always love these seven to 10 days spending with friends just representing Serbia, it’s really fantastic.”
In the other quarter-finals, Argentina hosts France, Kazakhstan welcomes the defending champion Czech Republic, and Canada faces Italy.
Argentina has lost all five previous ties with France, including being beaten 5-0 in the 2010 semi-finals in Lyon.
Without Juan Martin del Potro again, the same team that beat Germany 5-0 will line up on clay against the same France team that defeated Israel by the same score. Top 10 players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet are complemented by accomplished doubles pair Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.
The Czech Republic risks becoming the third defending champ in seven years to fall in the quarters.
In the absence of his long-time partner Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek will spearhead the Czechs against host Kazakhstan.
Stepanek hasn’t played since an early defeat in the Australian Open, after which he underwent surgery on a disc in his neck.
While he was sidelined, the sixth-ranked Berdych won all three points against Switzerland. But after reaching two ATP finals, a semi-final and quarter-final, he injured a shoulder and will miss his first tie in three years.
Fortunately for the Czechs, Stepanek is now available, but he will play his first tie without Berdych since his cup debut 10 years ago.