The “new” Davis Cup offered up a Valentine’s Day Special for tennis fans, as the official draw was made Thursday evening during a fancy ceremony in Madrid.
They wrapped it up in 56 minutes – no small feat considering they were doing it in two languages.
But the stage is now set for that event that is … more than nine months away.
Children will be conceived and born by the time the players finally get to play.
The irony came early, when Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were featured in the “Davis Cup excitement” video.
Federer won’t play, along with Germany’s Alexander Zverev (he says). Djokovic? We don’t know.
Here’s a quick rewind of the draw ceremony. Follow along with the Tennis.Life captions.
Who’ll be in Madrid? Who knows
Another top-10 player, Kevin Anderson, won’t be there because South Africa won’t be there (plus, Anderson hasn’t played since 2011). Same for Dominic Thiem, who missed the qualifier a few weeks ago. Dennis Novak and Jurij Rodionov weren’t able to pull it out against Chile).
Juan Martin del Potro? Who knows.
A lot of question marks.
All of which makes the outcome of the draw interesting, but hardly definitive. And there are nine months of season to get through, with the usual complement of battered bodies that limp into November.
(And no, we don’t know why new Argentine captain Gaston Gaudio – just announced officially a few days ago – got the primo seat next to Gerard Piqué).
Group A – France, Serbia, Japan (plays a ‘best 2nd’ in the QFs)
We don’t know if top Frenchman Lucas Pouille will play. He’s been pretty vocal about the Davis Cup changes.
We don’t know if Djokovic will play.
We don’t know if Kei Nishikori will be healthy and still ready to go at the end of November.
If they all play, this will be tough group.
Group B – Croatia, Spain, Russia (plays a ‘best 2nd’ in the QFs)
Croatia is led by Marin Cilic and Borna Coric. They’re a formidable duo. But Croatia generally chooses to host its home ties on clay for a reason. After they drag all the tierra batida out of the Caja Magica and put down the cement, tha changes the dynamic.
Spain should have Nadal. If he’s healthy. He, too, would much prefer the clay. The Spaniards might be the deepest if there are no-shows. But Russia could counter with two talented young guns – Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev.
Group C – Argentina, Germany, Chile (plays Group E in the QFs)
You would probably want to be in this group, if you had your pic. If del Potro and Diego Schwartzman play, they’re dangerous. Otherwise you leave the top 50.
Without Zverev, Germany doesn’t have a top-30 player. Chile – which qualified for the World Group for the first time (in the easiest year to do it), is probably just happy to be there.
Group D – Belgium, Australia, Colombia (plays Group F in the QFs)
That country, twice a recent finalist, has a bit of a dilemma. Its best and better players – Goffin, Darcis, Bemelmans – took a pass on going to Brazil. But the scrappy scrubs made it anyway. Who do you reward in the final?
You have to like Australia in this pool, whomever they bring. You know the Davis Cup people would prefer they select Nick Kyrgios, because he’s a crowd pleaser. But, you know, they have … issues.
Colombia doesn’t even have a singles player ranked in the top 100. So you want to be in this group, as well.
Group E – Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Netherlands (plays Group C in the QFs)
It’s doubtful Great Britain will have Andy Murray. Next up is Kyle Edmund, struggling with knee issues and down to No. 28. Next after that is … Cameron Norrie, at No. 65.
Kazakhstan and the Netherlands don’t figure to get through – in any other people. But someone is going to get through Group E to play the winner of Group C in the quarters.
That semifinalist will arguably be the weakest of the lot.
Group F – U.S., Italy, Canada (plays Group D in the QFs)
Group B is going to be tough – if everyone is on board. But you could argue, on the hard-court surface, that this group might be the toughest.
The U.S. has plenty of talent to choose from.
Canada has the young guns – Denis Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime – who might still be in good nick as you’d expect both could be at the Next Gen Finals a few weeks before. And if Milos Raonic plays … It’s all there.
Playing spoiler in that group is Italy. Top Italian Fabio Fognini puts in a pretty impressive effort in Davis cup generally. And Andreas Seppi is also really solid.
The winner of Group F plays the winner of Group D, and would likely be considered the favorite to get to the semis.