2016 Davis Cup: Who Goes to the Quarterfinals?September 28, 2015

The draw of the 2016 Davis Cup World Group was held in Santiago last Wednesday. Great Britain will be the top seed. Leo Smith's charges will meet the Japanese team next March. The Lawn Tennis Association will likely pick grass.

Luck seems to favour the British team, as their strongest opponents are found on the opposite side of the draw. A consoling thought, in case they lose to Belgium in the finals later this year. But 2016 is Olympic year. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled on a packed summer. There will be hard decisions to make.

The first round features three mouth-watering matchups. Picking the winner seems hard, so let's analyse it. Take a look:

Australia versus United States. Both countries have 60 Davis Cup titles between them. They once dominated this international team event, so a first-round meeting seemed too early. The tie will be held in Australia, which gives the home team an advantage. Lleyton Hewitt will hang up his racket, but it remains to be seen if Team Australia will appoint him as captain. Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios will likely play the singles, but a victory isn't a sure thing. (Kyrgios is a mercurial player, while Tomic and his family have issues with Team Australia.) How about the crucial doubles match? Finding a new partner for Sam Groth may take some time. Jim Courier, on the other hand, has lots of options. Jack Sock can be counted. John Isner can deliver. It will be the Bryan brothers or Steve Johnson and Sam Querry. If Team Australia make the right moves, then they are certain of advancing to the quarterfinals.

Italy versus Switzerland. After beating Thiemmo de Baker in straight sets, Roger Federer was asked about his Davis Cup plans next year. He was coy about it. Switzerland beat Netherlands, which ensured their place in the World Group. But they'll travel to Italy next March. It will be played on the slow court. And Severin Lüthi must be worried. No one wants to play Fabio Fognini when he's on good form. (Rafael Nadal should know.) Fognini and Simone Bolleli are one of the top doubles team in the tour. Italy will win this tie, unless Federer guarantees his participation. Let's not forget Stan Wawrinka.

Belgium versus Croatia. David Goffin and Steve Darcis are a formidable duo, but they can't count out the Croatians. The Royal Belgian Tennis Federation will choose clay, but Borna Ćorić is no slouch on the red dirt. Ivan Dodig (and Marcelo Melo) are the current French Open doubles champion. This one goes to Croatia.

The other first-round matches feature Serbia against Kazakhstan. The Serbians, the 2010 titlist, will host the Kazakhs. The tie is theirs to lose. Poland made history in Gydnia a few weeks ago, beating Slovakia to advance to the World Group for the first time. Radosław Szymanik's charges will reach the quarters, as they'll play Argentina at home. (Juan Martin del Potro is sorely missed.) France will host Canada. Yannick Noah will be the captain of the French team, and they must be feeling good about their chances. (Noah, the 1983 French Open winner, guided France to Davis Cup titles in 1991 and 1996.) Germany will host the Czech Republic. The Germans will win the tie if they play on red dirt.

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