The newly-revamped Davis Cup Finals, which is being sponsored by Rakuten, has been curtailed into a week-long affair, starting on 18th November and ending on 24th November. To be held at La Caja Magica, the home of the Madrid Masters, the stadium has also undergone a massive change in preparation for the gala event. This would be the 108th edition of the event and the first one where the tournament is not spread out over the course of the year but is restricted to just seven days.
Albeit the new format has attracted several controversies from players, Madrid along with ITF and Kosmos Tennis is ready for a week of intense tennis action. Under the new format for Davis Cup Finals, the world’s 18 best national teams will compete over the course of the week for the right to be crowned the world champions. Headlining the event is World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, representing Spain and World No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who has come to Madrid with his Serbian team.
To start off things, the defending champions from Croatia will open their bid against Russia. Their last meeting at the Davis Cup came in 2005 World Group semi-finals which was held in Split. On that occasion, Ivan Ljubicic won 3 matches to send Croatia forward to the final.
However, times have definitely changed now and Russia with its new blood of World No. 17 Karen Khachanov and World No. 23 Andy Rublev is sure to put up a stiff fight against the opposition from Croatia. For the latter, all hopes lie on Borna Coric to push them towards a tie and hopefully a favourable doubles match can take place with World No. 9 Ivan Dodig and No. 13 Nikola Mektic pairing up.
After the match between Croatia and Russia, it will be the turn of Team Italy to clash against the Team from Canada. The only meeting between these two countries took place in the quarter-finals of the 2013 edition. It was Canada who won that tie 3-1. But it would be unfair to not give the Italians a chance this time.
Matteo Berrettini, the World No. 8, who is fresh off a debut win at the London ATP Finals, will be looking to cause some serious damage. Fabio Fognini, the 12th-ranked player, is also a seasoned Davis Cup player and will not let Canada get away so easy. Canada, in its turn, has the rising star and World No. 15 Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, the World No. 21, to boast of. This should be a very close tie as it features the NextGen force.
In the other tie, we have Belgium who will go up against Colombia. This will be the first meeting between the two nations. It will all come down to who will win the second singles rubber between the two teams.
For Belgium, it will definitely be David Goffin who will be leading the way and is expected to dominate his Colombian opponent, Daniel Elahi Galan. The only area in which Colombia has the edge is doubles where the duo of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah is the world's best doubles team currently. The singles clash will be crucial in this regard and it is difficult to predict who will have the upper hand, considering the fact that aside from these names, neither team has seasoned Davis Cup regulars to offer.
This World Cup style of tennis has been advocated largely by footballer Gerard Pique. The week-long tennis action will see the winners from each of the six groups heading into the quarters on Thursday, along with the two best runner-up countries. It promises to be a new, fresh and exciting week of tennis ahead.
Here are all the details you need to know about Davis Cup Finals 2019 Schedule:
Tournament: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals
Date: 18 November - 24 November 2019
Number of teams: 18 (World Group)
Participants: ITF member nations
Group A- France, Serbia, Japan
Group B- Croatia, Spain, Russia
Group C- Argentina, Germany, Chile
Group D- Belgium, Australia, Colombia
Group E- Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Netherlands
Group F- United States of America, Italy, Canada
Location: Madrid, Spain
Venue: La Caja Magica Stadium or The Magic Box Stadium
Surface: Indoor hardcourtPublished 18 Nov 2019, 18:43 IST