Ryan Harrison Among 5 Players That Could Impact Davis Cup Quarterfinals

Van Sias@@Van_SiasContributor IIIApril 4, 2012

Ryan Harrison Among 5 Players That Could Impact Davis Cup Quarterfinals

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    The Davis Cup quarterfinals take place this weekend, and the U.S. team faces France on clay in Monte Carlo. The tie will see young American Ryan Harrison making his debut playing a live rubber match.

    Much rides on Harrison's performance, but he's not the only player that can have an impact on his nation's hopes of being crowned champion of the team competition at year's end.

    Here's a look at five players that can play a major role in clinching the Cup, starting this weekend.

Gilles Simon, France

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    Perhaps the best word to describe the veteran Frenchman is solid.

    Gilles Simon is a consistent top 15-level talent and performs equally well on hard and clay courts, the surface of choice this weekend when France takes on the United States.

    However, he hasn't always been at his best in Davis Cup.

    If he doesn't perform well, France could find itself the victim of an upset against the U.S., which is coming off a win in the first round abroad on clay against Switzerland.

Ryan Harrison, United States

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    Ryan Harrison has big shoes to fill this weekend in the Davis Cup quarterfinals: those of world-top-10 Mardy Fish, who pulled out of the tie due to illness.

    Harrison, making his live-match debut, has spoken openly and often about his career goals and envisions himself among the world's best.

    Helping the U.S. pull off a surprise win in France could do a lot to spur him forward.

Marin Cilic, Croatia

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    Marin Cilic leads Croatia against perhaps the most dangerous nation left in the competition, Argentina.

    And perhaps most daunting, he will do so on clay, which can negate his biggest weapons.

    Despite the fact that he's only 23, Cilic has played in a number of ties for Croatia. That experience will be crucial in the task he's about to face, going up against Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco on their home turf.

Jurgen Melzer, Austria

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    Austria's No. 1 player for years now, Jurgen Melzer is used to having all of the pressure on his shoulders in international competition.

    However, that pressure will be intensified more than ever as he leads his country against defending Davis Cup champion Spain.

    If he falters on the first day of the tie, his team faces even more of an uphill battle.

    Melzer is a former French Open semifinalist and should feel confident taking to the clay in this tie.

Viktor Troicki, Serbia

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    Perhaps surprisingly, Serbia has seen a lot of Davis Cup success the past two years, primarily coinciding with the rise of its top player and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

    However, Djokovic isn't playing in this tie against the Czech Republic. The singles spots will be held by Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.

    The past few months haven't been so kind to Troicki, who seemed destined for the top 10 at one point.

    He must find his form on the clay against Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek if Serbia has any shot to advance to the semifinals.