When the Davis Cup winner is finally crowned in November, it will be a (relatively) new face hoisting the trophy after the last two winners, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, were knocked out in the first round. Half of the remaining nations in the quarterfinals have never won tennis’ biggest team trophy (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, and Kazakhstan), and it’s been over a decade for most of the rest (France, Australia, and Great Britain). Serbia is the most recent winner left, emerging with their only win in 2010.
Led by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the Serbs should have the easiest route to the finals, but it’s very much an open race and a lot can happen on and off the court over the next five months to change the outlook.
Let’s take a look at each country’s odds to take the title as things currently stand.
The Serbs are the current favorite. They wiped the floor with Croatia in the first round, blanking their archrival 5-0. Victor Troicki was the only player to drop a set. Led by Djokovic and 20-year doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, they have a simpler path to the finals playing on the weaker side of the bracket with Argentina, Canada, and Belgium. Having the best player on earth will always give a team a boost, too, but even without Djokovic, this team could still handle those three nations. Facing Argentina in the quarters, the Serbs look like a lock for the semis.
Entering the tournament as the top ranked nation, the French have an embarrassment of riches to choose from, including four singles players ranked in the ATP top-20. But not all is well for the team after they lost doubles specialist Julien Benneteau to surgery earlier this month. Playing against bitter rivals Great Britain in the quarters, the French will likely call on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (winner of 76-percent of his matches on grass) to lead the way. A deep team and finalists in last year’s cup, another French appearance in the final would shock very few.
In their second quarterfinals in three years, the eighth-ranked Canadian squad is led by similarly eighth-ranked Milos Raonic. After undergoing minor foot surgery, Raonic had to miss the French Open, but he should be fine for next month’s matchup with Belgium. However both he and running mate Vasek Pospisil have lacked consistency on clay courts, and this young Canadian team could face a challenge from the cagey Belgians who knocked out defending champs Switzerland in the first round. And even if they do get by Belgium, Serbia will be waiting in the wings, in all likelihood.
Winners of the Davis Cup a ridiculous 28 times, the Aussies haven’t been to the semis since 2006. Their chances are pretty good after drawing the surprising Kazakhs in the quarters. Bernard Tomic and his 14-2 record in Davis Cup matches will lead an Australian side that overcame a powerful Czech side, 3-2, in order to make it here.
The Argentinians needed Leonardo Mayer’s 6 hour and 42 minute triumph over Joao Souza to squeak out victory over their South American counterparts Brazil. They’ll be in even tougher straits when they host Serbia in the quarters. Argentina has found success against this side before, though, winning a 3-2 semifinal matchup in 2011. If they manage the upset again, they’ll stand a good chance of going all the way.
Great Britain: 12/1
The Murray brothers, Andy and the less heralded Jamie, head up a Great Britain squad looking to claim its first title since 1936. After dispatching the United States in the first round, the Brits will host the French on the grass courts of the Queen’s Club in London. Murray, the No. 3 player in the world, has a terrific career record on grass and, if it comes down to him versus Tsonga, Great Britain has to like their chances; Murray is 10-3 all time against the Frenchman. The Brits don’t have much depth behind Murray, but they provide solid value as a team that could sneak into the finals.
A weaker Belgian side took advantage of a Switzerland team missing Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer in the opening round – still just squeaking by – to set up a date with the Canadians. They should be getting a fully healthy Canada squad this time around, so their run is likely to end in the quarterfinals. Even if they pull the upset, they don’t have the power to matchup with Serbia, or even Argentina, in the semis, nor the likes of France or Australia in the finals.
This Kazakh team has actually made the quarterfinals three of the past four years, but has yet to go any farther. After Mikhail Kukushkin led his country to a win over a solid Italian group, the Kazakhs will have to fly to Australia and knock off the Roos on their native soil. That will be a tall order for this underdog team;, especially playing on grass, something the Kazakh team has little experience with.
(Photo Credit: Yann Caradec (Flickr: Novak Djokovic) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)