Spain vs. Austria
champion Spain, they'll be up against a slew of strong stars. They might be missing their biggest star in Rafael Nadal, but David Ferrer is consistently one of the biggest fighters on court, and Nicolas Almagro, relatively quiet recently, has nonetheless continued to show his prowess on the clay. Rounded out by Marcel Granollers and doubles powerhouse Marc Lopez, they should be the clear favorites.
Austria will be banking on the strength of Jurgen Melzer, playing well again after a title in Memphis. The 2010 French Open semifinalist has had his own success on the dirt in the past, and might just be able to recapture that momentum. It'll be tough, though, with no other real singles stars on the team -- the Austrians may have to hope that doubles rubber goes their way.
Argentina vs. Croatia
semifinalist in Miami, and veteran David Nalbandian, arguably a bigger surprise in the Indian Wells quarters. They've made at least the semis in five of the last seven years and seemed primed to do it again.
Their opponents, meanwhile, will be lead by Marin Cilic and big-serving Ivo Karlovic, neither of whom are playing at the top of their game. Either is capable of pulling off an upset, of course, but they'll have to bring their A-game if they're going to unseat last year's runners-up. But playing on the Argentine's homefield, it seems unlikely we'll see any huge surprises here.
Czech Republic vs. Serbia
champion Serbs were able to handily take their opening ties, each just losing a rubber during the weekend. But things might not be so one-sided this time around. Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek are both playing well for their team, while their opponents' brightest start, world #1 Novak Djokovic, will be sitting out this round. Sure Janko Tipsarevic, at a career high ranking of #8, is coming off a run to the Miami quarters, where he very nearly notched an upset over Andy Murray. And Nenad Zimonjic is always a force in the doubles rubber. But if both these countries play to their ability, it could be the closest match-up we see.
France vs. U.S.
finalist and rising star Ryan Harrison. Backed up by the #1 doubles team Mike and Bob Bryan, they're not without firepower, but this will be a true test of the next generation of U.S. stars.
France, on the other hand, will bring four top-fifty singles players to the mix, a couple of whom are also well-accomplished in the doubles realm. But Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, though always a threat, has been little better than mediocre this year, and Gilles Simon suffered a close loss to Isner in the California dessert. They have experience on their side, though, and a little more time at the top than their opponents. But if the Americans can score the win, it might be the coup we've been waiting for.
Of course, like with any major tennis event, there's no way to really know what will happen. But this weekend's quarterfinals sure hold potential for more than a few surprises -- and a couple blowouts. The results could really make clear the differences between those that advance and those that stay behind. And as the survivors continue to vie for Davis Cup glory, it looks like the competition will only get tougher from here.