Davis Cup action begins
Spain will be without their top three players when they face Milos Raonic’s Canada
Defending champions Czech Republic travel to Geneva to take on Switzerland, while a depleted Spanish squad face a tricky tie away to Canada in the opening round of Davis Cup action
Tomas Berdych and his Czech Republic team will be looking to re-write the history books once more when they kick-start their Davis Cup title defense against Switzerland. If last year’s winners can extend their winning streak to six straight ties this weekend then they will surpass their nation’s previous best record of five wins in a row. Switzerland, who will be without 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, are bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004 after falling at the first hurdle in their last six World Group appearances.
Spain will field a weakened side when they face Milos Raonic’s Canadian team in Vancouver. Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro are all absent, leaving world No. 34 Marcel Granollers to fly the flag for the world’s highest ranked team. Canada have never won a World Group tie, losing in the first round un their four previous appearances, but with world No.15 Milos Raonic, the highest-ever ranked Canadian, and Daniel Nestor, the world’s fourth best doubles player, at their disposal they will fancy their chances against the five-time champs.
Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will be donning Serbian colours this weekend against Belgium in Charleroi as the 2010 champions look to reach the quarter-finals for the fourth consecutive year. World No.50 David Goffin will lead the home side, which have lost in the World Group first round in 11 of their 14 previous appearances.
USA, who have won the competition 32 times, will take on new-comers Brazil in their 279th Davis Cup tie in Florida. Half of the world’s best doubles team, Mike Bryan, will become the USA’s most successful ever Davis Cup doubles player if he and his brother can capture the doubles rubber this weekend.
Elsewhere, France, who have lost in the first round just once in the last 11 years, will make their 15th consecutive World Group appearance at home to Israel. Last year’s semi-finalists Argentina welcome three-time champs Germany to the clay of Buenos Aires. Kazakhstan take on an Austrian team led by Jurgen Melzer, who will be playing in his 15th year of Davis Cup, while Italy will be bidding to reach their first quarter-final since 1998 when they host the 2005 champions Croatia.
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