In what could be final round in this tradition format, the Davis Cup semifinals have already gotten underway in Europe.
Rafael Nadal had to withdraw due to his knee issues as Spain will go to France. Picking up the slack in Lille will be Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut.
France will be without Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but Lucas Pouille and Benoit Paire will lead the way.
“It’s going to be a tough one, very close, with no Rafa here,” said French captain Noah.
“When you look at the head to head, it’s close but, as you know, the Davis Cup is crazy – and crazy things happen. We have a dream to win this one, and to be able to defend our title in November.
“Rafa is one of the best ever and the first thing when we won against Italy, we thought ‘wow, we’re going to be playing Rafa in Davis Cup’ so we have so much respect for this great champion.
“It was exciting, the thought of coming home and having to play Rafa. It would have been a privilege to sit at courtside and watch him but I don’t have that now. Yet when people talk to us about their No. 1 player being out, nobody talks about no Jo-Wilfried or Gael for us and Pierre-Hugues was injured so we have had problems too.”
Paire already took the opener beating Carreno Busta in straight sets.
SPAIN AT FRANCE
R1: B. PAIRE v P. CARRENO BUSTA
R2: L. POUILLE v R. BAUTISTA AGUT
R3: J. BENNETEAU/N. MAHUT v M. GRANOLLERS/F. LOPEZ
R4: L. POUILLE v P. CARRENO BUSTA
R5: B. PAIRE v R. BAUTISTA AGUT
In Croatia on the slow red clay in Zadar, Marin Cilic and Borna Coric will host a USA team led by youngster Frances Tiafoe and veteran Steve Johnson.
Both John Isner (wife is pregnant) and Jack Sock (injury) were unavailable for the tie.
“Pretty excited for it,” said Tiafoe who is making his Davis Cup debut. “Should be fun. Obviously, getting the chance to play another guy in the Top 10. I’ve made a huge jump this year. I was pretty much a Challenger guy most of the time, so winning a Tour event has been great. I think it’s been a great year. I feel like when I’m playing good, I’ve got a chance against anyone.”
USA at CROATIA
R1: B. CORIC v S. JOHNSON
R2: M. CILIC v F. TIAFOE
R3: I. DODIG/M. PAVIC v M. BRYAN/R. HARRISON
R4: M. CILIC v S. JOHNSON
R5: B. CORIC v F. TIAFOE
In playoff matches, Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov lead Canada against the Netherlands in Toronto. Austria and Dominic Thiem host Alex De Minaur and Australia. Great Britain also hosts Uzbekistan.
Next year the Davis Cup will adopt a new format. Though, it might still not happen as planned.
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