When I first previewed the favorites for the 2017 Davis Cup, Serbia were the outright favorites. But now as we approach the quarterfinals, the Serbs find themselves the joint-favorites alongside France. From April 7-9, the eight remaining countries will duke it out in the quarters. After that, it’s a long wait until September for the semis.
Here are the QF matchups:
Serbia vs Spain (Belgrade, Serbia)
France vs Great Britain (Rouen, France)
Australia vs USA (Brisbane, Australia)
Belgium vs Italy (Charleroi, Belgium)
The French powered through Japan in the first round, losing only one of the five matches. The French side didn’t even have to call upon its star players, Gaël Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, to overcome Japan. The convincing performance, coupled with a decent draw against Great Britain, is enough to place them neck-and-neck with Serbia.
Likewise, Serbia made easy work of a weak Russian squad, winning the first four games and then handing the Russians a walkover in the fifth. The Serbs are relying on their star, Novak Djokovic, to carry them through the quarterfinals where they’ll face an unexpectedly strong Spanish lineup.
Leading into the Davis Cup, Spain weren’t exactly among the favorites, but after edging past Croatia — last year’s runners up — they’ve become one of the key countries to watch. Their current team is far from spectacular, but they get the job done.
Great Britain are through to the quarterfinals by the skin of their teeth after Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov accidentally drilled a ball into the umpire’s face, leading to his disqualification, in the decisive fifth match in the round of 16. Andy Murray is currently out with an elbow injury, but he may have to take to the clay courts of Rouen in order to give the Brits a fighting chance against the French.
Historically, USA (32 wins) and Australia (28 wins) have been the most successful countries at the Davis Cup, but neither are at their best right now. Australia’s hopes are pinned on Nick Kyrgios, a notoriously volatile and inconsistent player. The US is also experiencing a dry-spell when it comes to world-class players: Jack Sock and John Isner were enough to get by a Swiss team that left its stars on the bench, but are they Davis Cup champions in the making?
If both Serbia and France make it through, they will face each other in the semifinals. For now, they’ll have to focus on getting through the quarters. This tournament has a way of handing out surprises to seemingly stronger nations.
Odds to win the 2017 Davis Cup
Great Britain: 89/11
Photo credit: Atael W (flickr) CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0]