It’s hard to believe it was back in April that the 2018 Davis Cup quarter-finals took place. However, we’re now set for the 2018 Davis Cup semi-finals (Sept 14-16), which are France vs Spain and Croatia vs USA. We’ll be taking a look back at how those four teams have played so far and the possible line-ups for the semi-finals.
We’ll also be taking a look at whether Novak Djokovic has truly returned to his best form after his win in the 2018 US Open. There’s also a brief look at the four ATP Tournaments taking part in September, which are the St Petersburg Open, The Moselle Open, The Chengdu Open, and the Shenzhen Open.
Is Djokovic Back to His Best?
After looking out of sorts for the first half of 2018, Novak Djokovic has bounced back to number three in the ATP world rankings after adding the 2018 US Open title to his 2018 Wimbledon title. The former World number one, and now 14-time grand slam winner, has attributed his new-found motivation to wanting his son to see him win grand slams, However, there still has to be a question mark over whether Djokovic is quite as good as the player who achieved a career grand slam when winning the 2016 French Open.
Djokovic may or not be as good, but the truth is the 2018 Us Open almost fell into his hands. The poor quality of his opening four opponents took little out of him as he disposed of Martin Fucsovics, Tennys Sandgren, Richard Gasquet, and Joao Sousa. He must also have been rubbing his hands with glee when John Millman produced the shock of the tournament when defeating Roger Federer in the round-of-16, to rob the crowds of a Djokovic/Federer quarter-final.
Of course, the effort required to beat Federer meant that Millman had nothing left in the locker for his match with Djokovic. That may also have been the case for Djokovic’s semi-final opponent Kei Nishikori, who had endured a five-setter against Marin Cilic in his quarter-final. That meant that Djokovic arrived in the final fresh, which allowed him to beat Juan Martin del Potro with ease.
However, as the season heads towards the Nitto ATP Finals in November, the question is who’s going to stop Djokovic’s recent resurgence towards the top. The answer is probably nobody. Age may finally have caught up with Federer, whilst Nadal’s old injury worries have resurfaced. Meanwhile, Andy Murray remains a shadow of his former self, whilst the remainder of the current batch of tennis players aren’t in the same league as Djokovic. It also appears too soon for the NextGen stars to take the required big step-up. Therefore, it could pay to follow Djokovic over the final few weeks of the season as he may well have set his sights on regaining his world number one status before the season ends.
Davis Cup: 2018 World Group Semi Finals
The 2018 Davis Cup is down to its final four teams and the semi-finals see France take on Spain and Croatia Take on the USA for a place in the 2018 Davis Cup Final that takes place in November.
France vs Spain (14-16 September)
The Davis Cup semi-final between France and Spain takes place at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, meaning the France Team has home advantage for a match between two teams that the bookies originally made favourites of the 2018 Davis Cup. France are now the outright favourites after wins over The Netherlands and Italy, whilst Spain are out to third favourites after beating Great Britain and Germany.
Team selections will be all important though, with France drafting in Lucas Pouille to win both his singles rubbers against Italy. Chardy failed to win in that match, but both Mannarino and Gasquet won one single rubber each against The Netherlands. However, the crucial selection could be whether Rafa Nadal plays for Spain. If he does, Spain’s odds will surely go into freefall, making odds of around 3/1 for Spain to win the 2018 Davis Cup very tempting.
Croatia vs USA (September 14-16)
A home-tie at the Sportski Centar Visnjik in Zadar has seen Croatia harden into second-favourites for the 2018 Davis Cup. This will be the first time the Croatian team has played at home this year in the competition, after beating both Canada and Kazakhstan on their travels. Marin Cilic has been instrumental in Croatia’s progress, whilst Borna Coric is also no mug, and the two of them look sure to spearhead Croatia’s challenge for a spot in the final.
This is no certainty for Croatia though, with the USA having a strong looking squad to choose from, one that includes John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, and Steve Johnson. Meantime, Ryan Harrison has teamed up to win two doubles matches with Sock and Johnson, making this a tough match to call.
ATP Tournaments in September 2018
St Petersburg Open (August 17-23)
The St Petersburg Open is an ATP 250 Event played on indoor hardcourts. It was established in 1995 when the Russian player Yevgeny Kafelnikov delighted the home fans by lifting the inaugural trophy. Since then, both Marat Safin and Andy Murray have lifted the trophy in consecutive years, though Murray was the last of the world’s elite players to win here when he won in 2008.
The last three winners have been Raonic, A. Zverev, and Dzumhur. The latter is the only one of that trio that has committed to playing here this year so far, and his biggest challenger could be world number eight Dominic Thiem, who looked to be coming back to form at the US Open.
Moselle Open (September 17-23)
The Moselle Open takes place in Metz in France and is an ATP 250 Event played on indoor hardcourts. The tournament was first played in 2003, when Frenchman Arnaud Clement was the first player to write his name on the trophy, much to the pleasure of his French fans. French players have since continued their love affair with the event, with Jerome Haehnel, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Lucas Pouille also adding their names to the tournament’s role of honour.
The French players are likely to mount another strong challenge, with Pouille, Mannarino, Gasquet, and Tsonga all set to play, though Kei Nishikori could be an interesting challenger is he can stay fit after his US Open semi-final appearance.
Chengdu Open (September 24-30)
The Chengdu Open takes place in China and is an ATP 250 Event played on outdoor hardcourts. The event is one of four ATP events that are now played in China, but it is the most recent addition having only been added to the ATP schedule in 2016. The venue used for the tournament has been well received by the players, with two show courts staging the most important matches. Khachanov and Istomin have been the tournaments two winners so far, but this year’s contest could attract some higher-ranked players, including Anderson, Carrena-Busta, Fognini, Chung and Querrey.
Shenzhen Open (September 24-30)
The Shenzhen Open is competing to attract the world’s top tennis stars this year, as its fellow China-based Chengdu Open is being played at the same time. This is also an ATP 250 Event played on outdoor hardcourts. The tournament is just two-years older than the Chengdu Open, having been established in 2014.
However, it has so far been won by much bigger names, with Andy Murray winning the inaugural event, Tomas Berdych winning in 2015 and 2016, whilst David Goffin won in 2017. Goffin may try and defend his title this year, though NextGen stars Borna Coric and Denis Shapovalov could prove tough opponents.