Following a busy Olympic season and many of the top stars close to or into their 30s, the first round World Group Davis Cup field is without many marquee names. But a few (5 in the Top 20) are still making their appearance.
Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic leads a Serbian team that welcomes a young, talented Russian squad. The Russians are anchored by 20-year-olds Karen Khanchanov and Daniil Medevedev. Djokovic opens play Friday against Medvedev.
“The Russians have a young and motivated team, therefore we have to take them very seriously,” Djokovic said. “They are all in the top 100, they can all play singles and doubles so it’s not going to be easy by any means.
Djokovic comes in off a stunning loss to Denis Istomin at the Australian Open.
“I always try to take the best out of these Davis Cup weeks for my individual career because we don’t get too many chances to represent our country in a team competition,” he added. “Coming back to the Davis Cup week is like coming home to a family and with that in mind, we will do our best to delight our home crowd who turned up in such great numbers for yesterday’s practice.”
Djokovic is the lone Top 14 player in competition this weekend.
Troubled Nick Kyrgios and Australia will host the Czech Republic at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt has Jordan Thompson in for Bernard Tomic.
“I think it’s a good draw for us and Jordan doesn’t have to waste a lot of nervous energy in the locker room,” Hewitt said. “Then we get our No. 1 player Nick in the next match. If we can get a good performance in the first match and then Nick, that can potentially open up this tie.”
Alexander Zverev and Philipp Kohlschreiber star for Germany as they welcome Belgium. The American tandem of Jack Sock and John Isner host the Federer-less Swiss team. And this time USA will be without the Bryans brothers who have retired from Davis Cup play, giving way to Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey.
With Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon, France also figures to be in good shape as they travel to Japan.
Argentina v Italy – Buenos Aires, ARG – clay (outdoors)
Head-to-head: Argentina leads 2-1
A 4th meeting between these 2 nations – and their 3rd in 4 years. Argentina won their first meeting with Italy on away soil in Rome in 1983, but the two teams have split their two more recent meetings. Italy won 3-1 the last time the two nations met on Argentine soil – a first round tie in 2014 – but Argentina took their revenge with a 3-1 win in last year’s quarterfinals en route to winning the Davis Cup title for the first time.
Guido Pella (ARG) v Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)
Carlos Berlocq (ARG) v Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Leonardo Mayer/Diego Schwartzman (ARG) v Simone Bolelli/Andreas Seppi (ITA)
Carlos Berlocq (ARG) v Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)
Guido Pella (ARG) v Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Germany v Belgium – Frankfurt, GER – hard (indoors)
Head-to-head: Germany leads 8-0
A 9th meeting for the 2 nations but their first in almost a decade. The teams last met in a World Group
quarterfinal in Ostend in April 2007, when Germany won 3-2, wrapping the tie up in the doubles rubber on the
second day of play. Of the players who contested that tie, only Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber will play this weekend.
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) v Steve Darcis (BEL)
Alexander Zverev (GER) v Arthur de Greef (BEL)
Jan-Lennard Struff/Mischa Zverev (GER) v Ruben Bemelmans/Joris de Loore (BEL)
Alexander Zverev (GER) v Steve Darcis (BEL)
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) v Arthur de Greef (BEL)
Australia v Czech Republic – Melbourne, AUS – hard (outdoors)
Head-to-head: Australia leads 7-1
A 9th meeting between these 2 nations, whose last clash came in the World Group first round in Ostrava in
2015, when Bernard Tomic clinched the tie in the fourth rubber. The visitors’ only victory over Australia came under the flag of Czechoslovakia in 1975, when Jan Kodes led the
Czechs to a 3-1 victory in Prague.
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Jiri Vesely (CZE)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) v Jan Satral (CZE)
Sam Groth/John Peers (AUS) v Zdnek Kolar/Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) v Jiri Vesely (CZE)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Jan Satral (CZE)
USA v Switzerland – Birmingham, AL, USA – hard (indoors)
Head-to-head: USA leads 3-1
A 5th meeting between these 2 nations but their first since 2012, when USA stunned Switzerland 5-0 on clay in
Fribourg in a tie that saw Mardy Fish defeat Stan Wawrinka in five sets before an inspired John Isner took the
scalp of Roger Federer in the 2nd rubber. Switzerland is bidding to defeat USA for the first time since 2001, when Federer led the hosts to a 3-2 victory in the World Group first round in Basle.
Jack Sock (USA) v Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)
John Isner (USA) v Henri Laaksonen (SUI)
Steve Johnson/Sam Querrey v Antoine Bellier/Adrien Bossel (SUI)
Jack Sock (USA) v Henri Laaksonen (SUI)
John Isner (USA) v Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)
Japan v France – Tokyo, JPN – hard (indoors)
Head-to-head: France leads 3-0
France is looking to maintain its undefeated record against Japan, having beaten this weekend’s opponent in all
3 of their previous meetings – 3-2 at Forest Hills in 1926, 3-0 in Boston in 1927 and 4-1 at Roland Garros in
1981. This is France’s first visit to Japan.
Taro Daniel (JPN) v Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) v Gilles Simon (FRA)
Yuichi Sugita/Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) v Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) v Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Taro Daniel (JPN) v Gilles Simon (FRA)
Canada v Great Britain – Ottawa, CAN – hard (indoors)
Head-to-head: Great Britain leads 1-0
Great Britain won the only previous meeting between these 2 nations 4-1 on clay in Bournemouth in 1967, when
3 of the 4 live rubbers were decided in 5 sets. Roger Taylor won the decisive fourth rubber, defeating Michael
Belkin in 5 sets.
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) v Daniel Evans (GBR)
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v Kyle Edmund (GBR)
Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v Dominic Inglot/Jamie Murray (GBR)
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v Daniel Evans (GBR)
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) v Kyle Edmund (GBR)
Serbia v Russia – Nis, SRB – hard (indoors)
Head-to-head: Russia leads 1-0
Russia won the only previous meeting between these 2 nations 3-2 in 2008, when Novak Djokovic retired
injured against Nikolay Davydenko in the decisive fourth rubber.
Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Karen Khachanov (RUS)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Daniil Medvedev (RUS)
Viktor Troicki/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) v Konstantin Kravchuk/Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Karen Khachanov (RUS)
Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Daniil Medvedev (RUS)
Croatia v Spain – Osijek, CRO – hard (indoors)
Head-to-head: Spain leads 1-0
A 2nd Davis Cup meeting between these 2 nations, with Spain winning their only previous encounter 5-0 in
Valencia in 2003.
Franko Skugor (CRO) v Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
Ante Pavic (CRO) v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Marin Draganja/Nikola Mektic (CRO) v Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez (ESP)
Franko Skugor (CRO) v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Ante Pavic (CRO) v Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
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