Last weekend, Switzerland, led by the legendary Roger Federer and up-and-coming Stan Wawrinka, won its first-ever Davis Cup by defeating France (3-1) in the best-of-five final.
Roger, Stan, and the rest of the Swiss team won’t have too much time to bask in the glory of their 2014 title. The World Group for the 2015 Davis Cup is already set and the top-16 tennis nations will begin the long trek to glory on March 6-8.
Let’s take a look at the 2015 odds and preview the first round matchups.
Some familiar countries head the odds for the 2015 title. Despite not hoisting the trophy since 2001, France leads the 2015 odds at 5/2. Serbia, led by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, is next at 9/2, while the up-start Canadians are third at 11/2. The defending champs, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic, which claimed the title in both 2012 and 2013, round out the top-five at 7/1 and 8/1, respectively.
France’s place at the top of the list is as much a product of their favorable draw as their quality of play. Serbia, Switzerland, Canada, and Croatia are all on the other half of the draw, meaning France would only have to defeat one of them in order to claim the title.
Here are the odds for all 16 countries to claim the 2015 Davis Cup. The number in parentheses denotes seeding for the 2015 tournament:
- France (1): 5/2
- Serbia (4): 9/2
- Canada (8): 11/2
- Switzerland (2): 7/1
- Czech Republic (3): 8/1
- Croatia: 9/1
- Argentina (5): 14/1
- Italy (6): 16/1
- USA (7): 18/1
- Great Britain: 30/1
- Australia: 33/1
- Germany: 40/1
- Japan: 40/1
- Belgium: 50/1
- Brazil: 100/1
- Kazakhstan: 175/1
2015 First-Round Preview:
Taking a look at the eight first-round matches, Switzerland will begin its title defense on the road against Belgium. The Swiss lead the all-time series with four wins in seven ties, including the last meeting in 2008. Coincidentally, Federer made his debut for his country against Belgium in 1999. That year, he lost the two singles matches he played. If he suits up this year, expect a different result against the overmatched Belgians.
France will face a tough test in its opener against Germany. The tie will be a rematch from 2014, when France narrowly edged Germany 3-2 in the quarterfinals, with Gael Monfils crushing Peter Gojowczyk in the decisive match (6-1, 7-6, 6-2). However, Germany was missing Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Florian Mayer last year, yet still managed to take two matches from a fully intact French squad. If any or all of them decide to play this year, France may have its hands full. That said, the French have traditionally dominated Germany at the event, winning eight of ten all-time ties.
For the second consecutive year, the US will face Great Britain. Last year, Andy Murray led the Brits to their first victory over the Americans since 1935. This time, the series will be held in Europe, and the Americans lack a true go-to player. Luckily for US coach Jim Courier, the Brits lack much depth behind Murray.
Elsewhere, the Czech Republic and Australia will meet for the first time ever. The Czechs were seeking their third consecutive title in 2014, but were ousted by France (4-1) in the semifinals. Australia will be looking for championship number 29, but its first since 2003. The Australian team may be an interesting mix of young and old; 33-year-old Lleyton Hewitt remains the top-ranked Australian in men’s singles (No. 50), but 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios (No. 52) is poised to overtake him this year, which is likely Hewitt’s last as a pro.
The ATP schedule-makers may be to blame for a new war, as they have pitted former belligerents – and age-old enemies – Croatia and Serbia against each other in the Round of 16. In addition to Djokovic, Serbia may have Janko Tipsarevic and doubles-specialist Nenad Zimonic on their formidable roster. Croatia did not make the World Group in 2014. Led by Marin Cilic, last year’s US Open champ, they will look to upset the favored Serbs in enemy territory in March. This will be the second tie between these two young countries; the first was in 2010, and the Serbs cruised to a 4-1 win.
For the first time since 1980, the classic South American soccer rivalry will play out on the tennis court as Argentina hosts Brazil. In their last meeting, the Argentines won 4-1 in Sao Paulo, and they’re favored to advance again this year.
Japan will square off with Canada for the second straight year. In 2014, Japan dominated a young Canadian squad, 4-1, in Tokyo. Now a year older and wiser – and back on home soil – Milos Raonic and company will look to repay the favor against Kei Nishikori and his countrymen.
Finally, Fabio Fognini and the Italians will travel to Kazakhstan. Last year, the Kazakhs, led by Andrey Golubev, surprised Belgium (3-2) in the opening round and forced Switzerland to a fifth-and-deciding match in the quarterfinals. They will look to continue their strong play against the heavily favored Italians this year.
(Photo credit: Doha Stadium Plus Qatar from Doha, Qatar (Roger Federer Uploaded by flickrworker) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)