2017 Davis Cup: Will it be Australia vs. France?February 08, 2017
It's too early to predict the outcome of the rest of the season, but the Davis Cup might be an exception. A cohesive team will be the key factor in this demanding sport, and both Australia and France have it. Furthermore, the outcome of the opening tie favour both teams.
The British squad didn't have Andy Murray, but they managed to win their tie away from home. Kyle Edmond was leading Denis Shapovalov when the latter hit umpire Arnaud Gaba after mishitting a forehand. It was a case of an outburst, which led to Edmond winning by default. Great Britain will travel to France this April.
"Emotional control is the biggest factor in this game. He must learn the lesson and hope it serves him in the rest of his career," Canadian Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau said.
On the other hand, Spain rallied on the final day to beat Croatia on their home turf. Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer didn't don the Spanish colours while the big names in Croatian tennis were conspicuously absent in Osijek. It didn't make the Croatian squad the underdogs in this tie, as Marin Draganja and Nikola Mektić upset French Open champion Feliciano López and Marc López. Roberto Bautista Agut won both his singles matches while Pablo Carreño Busta, currently ranked 26th, delivered the decisive win.
The quarterfinals will be played on April 7-9. This is how it goes:
Australia vs. USA. Lleyton Hewitt would like his chances here, as the Aussie squad have the home fans to cheer them on. Nick Kyrgios would be unbeatable at his best, and it happened whenever Hewitt was watching from the sides. John Peers, the hottest doubles player at the moment, would be too good (with Sam Groth). And Hewitt might lean on experience (and call Bernard Tomic). Jim Courier's charges, another cohesive team, have experience on their side. Australia could wrap up the tie after the doubles rubber.
France vs. Great Britain. Leon Smith wouldn't count on Andy Murray to play singles, as the latter would defend his number one ranking. (Novak Djokovic could regain the top spot if Murray would bow up at the early rounds of the major clay-court tournaments.) Don't be surprised if Yannick Noah pick the red clay, which could give the French team an edge in this tie. If Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were available (and healthy enough), then Frenchmen could beat the Britons by 5-0.
Serbia vs. Spain. Nenad Zimonjić, Serbia's Davis Cup captain, would opt for hard court. Fans should not expect Djokovic and Nadal playing against each other. (Both players will likely prepare for the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Nadal is the defending champion.) Spain could have a fighting chance if Roberto Bautista Agut would travel to Serbia. The 2010 Davis Cup champion will advance to the semifinals (by the score of 3-2).
Belgium vs. Italy. David Goffin was missing in Frankfurt, but the rest of the Belgian team relied on gutsy play to beat their favoured German opponents. Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore gave Belgium the crucial win in doubles (after their marathon victory over Mischa and Alexander Zverev). Steve Darcis wasn't intimidated by the younger Zverev at all. A home crowd (and Goffin's participation) won't guarantee a victory if Fabio Fognini would be fit and motivated. (Fognini rallied from two sets down, stunning Guido Pella and the partisan crowd. Defending champion Argentina was out of contention.) It should be hard to predict if this tie would be a whitewash or a close one, but Belgian team could reach their second semifinals in three years.
The semifinals will pit Australia against Belgium and France against Serbia.
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