The hectic schedule of ATP World-Tour was halted for a week to make way for the Davis Cup world group matches in several global venues beginning March 06, 2015. Last week, most of the top stars participated in three different week-long tournaments in Dubai, Acapulco and Buenos Aires and many of them will shift their focus to the first round of Davis Cup World Group matches. While Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych will be the notable absentees, several top stars have thrown their rings for the national prestige. World no.1 Novak Djokovic will spearhead Serbia’s challenge against the visiting Croats at the indoor hard courts of Kraljevo Sports Centre. But Croatia can ride on Borna Coric’s rising game in recent times to seriously challenge the Serbs. Andy Murray plays in Glasgow and he will be a major force in Great Britain’s match against the USA. Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic will be pillars of strength for their nations in Japan’s first round match against Canada at Vancouver. In Frankfurt, Germany will host France and both sides have strong contingents.
Djokovic missed Serbia’s last Davis Cup match against India in Bangalore during September 12-14, 2014 but the Serbs got lucky in the end, when the last reverse singles was won by Filip Krajinovic. That barely ensured Serbia’s place in the 2015 world group. This time, however, the world no.1 is back and will be playing on home turf. The others with him will be Viktor Troicki, Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic. The Serbs could benefit from the absence of Marin Cilic, who is still not fully fit to represent Croatia. But they have the 18-year old sensation Borna Coric along with Mate Delic and Marin Draganja. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Serbia should win the tie.
Leading the challenge for Great Britain will be world no.5 Andy Murray against the visiting US team at Glasgow. Murray is being supported by James Ward, Dominic Inglot, Jamie Murray. But Great Britain will be seriously challenged by the US team that includes John Isner, Donald Young, Mike & Bob Bryan. Murray will bank on the home support but that may not be enough against the tough US team. The Glasgow meeting will be the 20th meeting between the Davis Cup’s two founding nations with Murray coming back to the Scottish city on Davis Cup duty for the first time since 2011, when Great Britain defeated Hungary 5-0 in Europe/Africa Zone Group II. Last year, the Scot played a lead role in Great Britain’s quarterfinals entry for the first time since 1986 with a 3-1 victory over Jim Courier’s men in the first round on clay in San Diego. But John Isner didn’t play in that tie. With the full squad now present, US will seek revenge for that defeat this time round. On record, Murray has never lost a Davis Cup singles rubber on a hard court and 7 out of his 19 Davis Cup wins have been scored on the hard surface.
Canada is taking on Japan at home with Milos Raonic playing with veteran doubles specialist Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil. Kei Nishikori is the lone star in the Japanese side that includes Go Soeda, Tatsuma Ito, Yasutaka Uchiyama.
Germany and France are both star-studded sides with Germany having the home turf advantage. Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benjamin Becker would hope to end a 76-year losing streak against the French. The French have world no.14 Gilles Simon and world no.19 Gael Monfils and they look like having an edge over Germany.
Though the Czech Republic will miss the services of their top star Tomas Berdych, they are still a stronger side to Australia. The Czech also have the home turf advantage at Ostrava with Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely likely to present a strong challenge against the Australian side consisting of veteran Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Sam Groth.
In the tie between Switzerland and Belgium at Liege, the visiting Swiss will be without Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. But they have Yann Marti, Adrien Bossel, Henri Laaksonen, Michael Lammer. Belgium will have their no.1 player David Goffin and he will be supported by Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans, Niels Desein.
Kazakhstan host Italy in Astana. Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev have excelled in recent matches and the Kazakh team also includes Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Dmitry Popko. But Italians are no mean team that included the likes of Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Simone Bolelli and Paolo Lorenzi. The balance appears tilted in favor of Italy.
Argentina is hosting neighbors Brazil at Buenos Aires and their team has such stars as Leonardo Mayer, Federico Delbonis, Diego Schwartzman and Carlos Berlocq. Brazil will be represented by Thomaz Bellucci, Joao Souza, Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares and it is going to be an interesting contest.
Other than the world group matches, there are other zonal Davis Cup matches being played all over the world. These zones includes Americas Zone Group I, Asia/Oceania Zone Group I, Europe/Africa Zone Group I, Americas Zone Group II, Asia/Oceania Zone Group II and Europe/Africa Zone Group II.
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