Teams including the United States Of America and Italy will be looking to put their best foot forward against a surging Russian side in the Group D matches to be held in Perth. With the emergence of Daniil Medvedev, Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev, Russia has turned into a formidable opponent. And while there is no derth of talent in the group, it is hard to see Russian losing even a single tie. Let's start with the former tennis giant, the USA. The 36-time Davis Cup Champions are just a meek shadow of what they used to be a decade ago, and John Isner really is the only consistent player in the side.
The big-serving American will have the task of taking on the top-ranked Russian, Medvedev. Even if he was to find a way past the 23-year old, whose defensive capabilities have earned him the title of the Russian Wall, it will come down to an inexperienced Taylor Fritz or Reilly Opelka to get the better of another top-10 player in Khachanov. It's a tall ask for any team. That said, the Italian side led by the flamboyant Fabio Fognini might be on to something. There has been a steady rise in the stature of the Italian team in the past couple of years and today they has as many as 8 players in the top 100. While there still might be some level of uncertainty over which of these 8 will actually play for the team, the sheer amount of options holds Italy in good stead.
Fognini can outrun and outlast anyone on the tour, a tactic that would be ideal against someone like an Isner. From there on, he can look to inspire confidence into the younger players in his side and hope for a few surprise results. Despite all that, Russia might just run away with the top spot in the group. It will, however be a very interesting contest for the second spot. Casper Rudd led Norway, which rounds up the group, will be looking to get some experience and maybe hope for a few good results here and there at best in this edition of the tournament at least.
Prediction: Russia to top the group, close contest for second position between USA and Italy.Published 28 Dec 2019, 17:32 IST