Davis Cup first round previews and predictions

Tennis never stops, and nowhere is that more indicative than in the Davis Cup competition, which feels like it just ended in 2017 and is now starting again in 2018. And that is, in fact, the reality of the situation. France lifted the trophy in late November and will be back in action on the second day of February when it hosts the Netherlands. More intriguing first-round ties will feature Australia, Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Germany vs. Australia

Where: Brisbane, Australia
Surface: Hard
Germany: Alexander Zverev, Jan-Lennard Struff, Peter Gojowyczk, Tim Puetz
Australia: Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur, John Peers, Matthew Ebden

This is the most noteworthy, newsworthy, and every other kind of worthy tie in the Davis Cup first round—and not just because Bernard Tomic is making headlines with his absence. The Australians, led by captain Lleyton Hewitt, have Nick Kyrgios on board along with Sydney runner-up Alex de Minaur. Sam Groth just retired, but Matthew Ebden is an adequate replacement to team up with John Peers in Saturday’s doubles rubber.

Germany is not as loaded as it has sometimes been in the past, but simply having Alexander Zverev on the roster makes this tie interesting. If Zverev can take care of business against de Minaur on Day 1, a live fourth rubber between Zverev and Kyrgios will be on tap for Sunday. That will be as good as Davis Cup gets this weekend.

Prediction: Australia 3, Germany 1

Italy vs. Japan

Where: Morioka, Japan
Surface: Indoor hard
Italy: Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Paolo Lorenzi, Simone Bolelli
Japan: Yuichi Sugita, Taro Daniel, Yasutaka Uchiyama, Ben McLachlan

Star power is not exactly off the charts in this tie, as Kei Nishikori is currently trying to get his game and his body in shape at the Dallas Challenger. Still, an undermanned Japan side cannot be discounted. Yuichi Sugita and Taro Daniel are in decent enough singles form, and Ben McLachlan is coming off a doubles semifinal showing at the Australian Open.

Italy, on the other hand, will enjoy its usual full assembly of players—and it will need all hands on deck if it wants to go into Japan and emerge with a ‘W.’ Both Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi reached the fourth round of the Aussie Open and any doubles combination the Italians throw out there will be a formidable one. In a potential fifth rubber, Seppi’s experience may be the difference.

Prediction: Italy 3, Japan 2

Great Britain vs. Spain

Where: Marbella, Spain
Surface: Clay
Great Britain
: Liam Broady, Cameron Norrie, Jamie Murray, Dominic Inglot
Spain: Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Pablo Carreno Busta, Feliciano Lopez

A showdown between Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray this is not. In fact, the Brits do not even have Kyle Edmund at their disposal; not after he finished a grueling fortnight Down Under at well less than 100 percent following a semifinal loss to Marin Cilic. Instead, Great Britain is paying a visit to Spain with Liam Broady and Cameron Norrie on its singles schedule.

The Spaniards are doing their best to make up for Nadal’s absence with the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Pablo Carreno Busta. Advantage: Spain. Great Britain should take the doubles rubber thanks to Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot, but it’s hard to see the visitors winning any singles matches.

Prediction: Spain 3, Great Britain 1

United States vs. Serbia

Where: Nis, Serbia
Surface: Indoor clay
United States: Sam Querrey, John Isner, Steve Johnson, Ryan Harrison
Serbia: Dusan Lajovic, Laslo Djere, Nikola Milojevic, Miljan Zekic

Serbia has been the bane of Team USA’s Davis Cup existence in recent times. In the 2010 first round, Viktor Troicki beat John Isner and then Novak Djokovic finished off the visiting Americans. In the 2013 quarterfinals, the United States threw away home-court advantage with the Bryan Brothers’ infamous doubles loss to Ilija Bozoljac (and Nenad Zimonjic).

Zimonjic is now Serbia’s captain and both Djokovic and Troicki are absent. All of those factors mean the Americans have a chance. But Dusan Lajovic is no pushover and even Laslo Djere cannot be taken lightly (the 22-year-old has climbed inside the top 100 at No. 88 in the world). The United States is a clear favorite on paper, but given its recent Davis Cup history—especially on the road—it may find a way to lose this tie.

Prediction: Serbia 3, United States 2

In other ties, France hosts the Netherlands, Kazakhstan hosts Switzerland, Belgium hosts Hungary, and Croatia hosts Canada.

Predictions: France 3, Netherlands 0 – Kazakhstan 3, Switzerland 1 – Belgium 3, Hungary 1 – Croatia 3, Canada 2

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

10 Comments on Davis Cup first round previews and predictions

  1. USA 3 – 0. Isner’s serve on clay can be nasty – ask Rafa and Roger! Don’t know re Querrey but I think he’ll get it together.

    Spain 3 – 0. ARV and RBA are playing singles while PCB and Feli Lopez handle the doubles. You know Ferrer is aging when he can’t make the starting lineup 🙁

    Oz 3 – 2. Home field advantage and Kyrgios possibly knuckling down, plus Zverev is not yet a great Bo5 player.

    Italy vs Japan 3-2. Seppi is a good and steady player. Who knows whether Japan will agree with Fognini but they should have enough.

    Croatia v Canada I’m going with Canada 3-2 but that’s mostly a hunch. Croatia does not have Cilic. Shapo plays decent DC and Nestor and Pospisil should be able to handle the doubles.

  2. I am gutted. When Cameron Norrie was two sets down against RBA I assumed it was game over and took the dog for a walk thus missed the drama of his astonishing upset. I’m staying only 20 minutes drive away from the Puente Romane Tennis Centre and debating whether to go and watch it live.

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