Revamped Davis Cup draw announced

Defending champions Croatia will meet Rafael Nadal’s Spain in the first edition of the new Davis Cup Finals in Spain in November.

Russia also was drawn into the same three-nation group for the inaugural 18-team tournament in Madrid.

Croatia celebrate after winning Davis Cup Final 3-1 Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

The draw for the six groups pitted the USA against Italy and Canada, while France – a finalist for the last two years – will play against Japan and Serbia, likely to be without Novak Djokovic, a vocal critic of the tournament’s new format.

The revamped competition was developed in a partnership between the International Tennis Federation and Kosmos, an investment group founded by Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique.

Pique said Nadal had already committed to the new tournament, but it remains unclear which other top players will participate.

Marin Cilic and Croatia celebrate as they win Davis Cup final. Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

Djokovic said the competition would conflict with the ATP Cup, a newly created team competition. Roger Federer had also said he did not intend to play if Switzerland had qualified.

The ITF said players will compete for prize money that will rival what is offered in Grand Slams and said it reached the 25-year deal with Kosmos to help increase revenue related to the Davis Cup,

“It’s innovation and it’s also keeping tradition,” ITF president David Haggerty said. “Where we are going with the Davis Cup is really just going to elevate it and make it better.”

The six group-winners will advance to the knockout stage, along with the two- best second-place teams.

The nations will play within their groups Monday-Thursday, with the knockout rounds Friday-Sunday. The matches will take place in three stadiums in morning and afternoon sessions. Each session will include two singles matches and a doubles match between two nations.

“It will be a tennis festival,” Pique said.

“From the first day to the last, we want Madrid to breathe tennis.”

The seeded teams entering the draw were France, Croatia, Argentina, Belgium, Britain and the US.

12 teams made it to the finals through the qualifying round earlier this month. Last year’s Davis Cup semifinalists – Croatia, France, Spain and the US – were already given spots in the finals. Britain and Argentina were given wildcard berths.

The six group winners plus the two second-placed teams with the best records based on percentage of sets won will qualify for the quarter-finals for the event which gets under way from November 18-24.

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: USA, Italy, Canada