Argentina up against Czechs in Davis Cup

OSTRAVA: Argentina hopes to overcome a fast court and the absence of David Nalbandian to beat the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup and reach its sixth semis in the last eight years.

"The surface is too fast for us, but we're training to be in good shape for Friday, Saturday and Sunday," fifth-ranked Juan Martin Del Potro said Tuesday ahead of the best-of-five series in Ostrava. "We have very good players, very good coach, so we hope to be prepared for these matches." The Czechs have chosen a synthetic carpet called Taraflex because their two best players, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek prefer fast surfaces. The Argentine players are better on the slower clay surface.

Argentina has to do without the 16th-ranked Nalbandian, who is recovering from hip surgery that forced him to miss Wimbledon and ruled him out of the U.S. Open.

Leonardo Mayer replaced Nalbandian on the Argentine team, which also includes Jose Acasuso and Juan Monaco.

Argentina captain Modesto Vazquez did not reveal Tuesday who will join Del Potro in the opening singles on Friday.

"We are here to give a good show and try our best," Vazquez said.

The 20th-ranked Berdych was also a member of the squad that lost to Argentina 5-0 in 2005, the only previous encounter between the countries.

"We're here to avenge the beating," Berdych said.

It was unclear whether Stepanek, who was eliminated in a five-setter in Wimbledon's fourth round by 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, could play the opening singles after he complained of problems with a thigh muscle and his knee.

"I can't imagine we would be without Radek," Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil said.

The Czech team also includes Ivo Minar and Lukas Dlouhy.

After finished runner-up last year, Argentina defeated the Netherlands in the first round, while the Czechs, seeking to reach their first semis since 1996, upset France 3-2.