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Sports & Off The Pitch
Apr 3 2013 3:34PM
 
US hoping altitude annoys Djokovic and Serbia in Davis Cup
Novak Djokovic.Picture: Getty Images
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The United States are counting on the advantage of altitude to help them through a Davis Cup quarter-final tie against a Serbian side led by world number one Novak Djokovic.

The top man in the ATP rankings will be looking for a return to form after losing a fourth-round match last week in Miami to Tommy Haas.

And Djokovic, who grew up in a ski resort, might well feel at home in the 850-metre altitude of the little-known Idaho venue in the west of the country.

The Americans look to be coming into the tie starting on Friday lacking form, with single players Sam Querrey and John Isner both failing to shine at last week's Masters where they went out early. Doubles are probably safe with Bob and Mike Bryan in control, although the twin brother act did lose in the Miami first round.

Two of the three remaining weekend ties for a spot in the September semis are being played in the Americas.

In Vancouver, Canada can again count on Milos Raonic against Italy after his recovery from the virus which forced him to quit the Miami event for a second year in succession.

Argentina host France in Buenos Aires without Juan Del Potro, who has opted out for this season and who lost early in Miami after playing the Indian Wells final last month against Rafael Nadal.

The final tie features holders Czech Republic travelling to Kazakhstan without lynchpin Tomas Berdych, out with a shoulder injury he suffered last week.

Radek Stepanek, the other half of the dynamic duo which engineered last Novembers knockout of Spain in the final, will see doubles play only after his January surgery for a neck problem.

US captain Jim Courier is hoping that his choice of mountain indoor hard court will prove to be too much for the Serbs, who are missing number two Janko Tipsarevic and will field Viktor Troicki alongside Djokovic for singles.

"We thought we could get the best possible advantage playing against a really difficult team in Serbia," he said of the choice. "Our team is an aggressive team, we like to serve well.

"Our players are all big servers. In altitude, the ball travels through the air a lot faster. It will move through the court, bounce higher, get onto the players quicker. It's typically pretty good for an offensive player."

The nations have met only once, in Belgrade, 2010, as Serbia moved on to the trophy that season. The US last won the Cup in 2007.

The good health of Raonic will be key for Canada, who will back up the big hittter against Italy with Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic and 40-year-old Daniel Nestor in doubles.

The Italians bring quiet man Andreas Seppi and court clown Fabio Fognini. But the fitness of Simone Bolelli is questionable, while Paolo Lorenzi is also on board for captain Corrado Barazzutti, who played on the last Italian side to win the Cup, back in 1976.

Canada are coming off of a giant-killing act in the February first round after beating Spain.

The Argentines will put Juan Monaco and Horacio Zeballos on singles duty, with backup from Carlos Berloq and veteran David Nalbandian as they face the French on red clay.

The visitors will field a powerful side of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Miami semi-finalist Richard Gasquet, plus Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra as an experienced doubles pair.

The champion Czechs will be in a fight with the host Kazakhs without Berdych and recovering Stepanek limited. The 2012 winners go into the weekend with Lukas Rosol, Jan Hajek and Ivo Minar while number 156 Mikhail Kukushkin leads the home side.
      
-Sapa-dpa

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