By News Team
Last Updated: 18th November 2019
The Davis Cup looks very different this year with a revamped format meaning we can now look forward to a seven-day, 18-team tournament in Madrid this week, starting on Monday afternoon with the final taking place on Sunday.
It is to be staged on hard courts at the Caja Magica and here is our preview of the new World Cup-style tournament.
Favourites Spain among main contenders
The competition will feature six groups of three nations, with France, Croatia, Argentina, Belgium, Great Britain and United States all seeded. All group winners progress to the quarter-finals as well as the two best second-placed teams.
The new format was devised in order to get the world’s best to take part and both world number one Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are in action for Spain and Serbia respectively, although both will need to improve on lacklustre displays in the ATP Finals in London last week.
As with any new tournament, it’s hard to know exactly how things are going to pan out, particularly with 18 teams taking part, but the market is rightly headed by Spain at 5/2, who have both Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut in their side. They haven’t been given an easy draw though, with 2016 champions Croatia and a strong-looking Russian side in their group. Neither will be easy to overcome and the Spanish look short enough.
France, at 9/2, have the top-class doubles pairing of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the victors in the ATP Finals in London. However, they look lacking in the singles department with Benoit Paire and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga inconsistent – a trait not suited to this format. Likewise, Djokovic looked like a long season might have been catching up with him in London and that’s more than enough to mean his Serbian team should be avoided at 15/2.
Great Britain, meanwhile, are not without a chance with Andy Murray back in action and playing the best he’s played since his injury troubles, but doubts continue over Kyle Edmund’s form with just two victories since the Montreal Masters in August. Murray and Co. are 14/1 for the title.
Australia can steal the show
With nagging doubts over a number of the main protagonists, Australia look the most solid option at 7/1. Yes, you’re always taking a chance when you have Nick Kyrgios in your side, but there must be some hope that the new Davis Cup format brings out the best in the enigmatic 24-year-old. He has shown his liking for the team format in the past with strong showings in the Laver Cup and he looks to have a worthy understudy in the Next Gen finalist Alex de Minaur.
De Minaur is a three-time winner this year and his consistent style is surely ideal for this format, especially as Kyrgios can go from the sublime to the ridiculous. They have a fantastic leader in Lleyton Hewitt, who will be crucial in keeping both Kyrgios and De Minaur on track as they seek to deliver for the men in green and gold.
The draw looks to have fallen favourably too with them drawn alongside Belgium and Colombia. The Belgians are hugely reliant on David Goffin, who has been horribly out of form recently, while although Colombia have the best two doubles players in the world, they’ll surely struggle to live with the better players in the singles.