Under its new format, the Davis Cup has gone from being a year-long event with ties played all around the world to a week-long, quick-fire series of ties between eighteen of the world’s premier tennis nations. The finals kicked off in Madrid on Monday, and by Sunday we’ll know who the last winner of the 2010s will be. The defending champions are Croatia, who were at least able to win one final against France in 2018 as Marin Cilic helped his country to a 3-1 win in Lille. It’s not a title they will successfully defend – having lost to Russia and Spain in the pool stage, the Croats have already been eliminated.
After the final three pool matches this morning and afternoon have been played out, we will know the full line-up for the quarter-finals. Already, we’re sure of one fixture for the last eight, as Canada take on Australia in the evening session having each topped their pools ahead of the USA and Belgium respectively. Both of these sides have already outperformed their 2018 showings, as last year’s tournament saw both exit in the last 16; now, the winner of this tie will have a place in the semi-finals.
Australia widely backed for the tie
By far Australia’s most talked-about player is the abrasive Nick Kyrgios, whose temperament has drawn more comment over the years than his tennis. That’s something of a shame, too, because when he’s on his game – as he has been here – Kyrgios has all the ability to make something happen. In Australia’s previous match, he served fantastically to secure the win over Belgium’s Steve Darcis, very probably eliminating the European side into the bargain. Along with Alex De Minaur, this is evidence of an Australian side that can go all the way.
Canada, for their part, have a combination of youth and experience which is largely untested at this level. Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov have played a lot of tennis and won their singles matches against both Italy and the US. However, the third team member, Felix Augier-Aliassame, has yet to feature at this event due to injury. With the former two players dealing with fatigue, and the 18-year-old likely to be ring-rusty at best, it’s hard not to look at Betway’s odds of 4/7 for the Antipodean side as being excellent value.
Doubles to make the difference
Canada’s performance at this Davis Cup has been hugely impressive when you consider that Italy and the USA have far more developed tennis infrastructure than they can claim; the Canucks won both their singles matches over the States, allowing them to withdraw from the doubles because qualification had already been secured. However, they’re unlikely to have the chance to withdraw in this quarter final, which likely means that the tie will be decided by a showdown between Shapovalov and Pospisil and the Australian pair of John Peers and Jordan Thompson – and that’s a problem for Canada.
Unless Augier-Aliassame is fit and ready to play a singles match, that encounter would be a fifth outing in three days for each of the Canadian men, while Peers (who is seeded second in the world in doubles) and Thompson have played just once thus far. In that meeting, they pulled out a hugely impressive win over Colombian pair Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal; the world’s top-ranked men’s doubles pairing, who have Wimbledon and US Open titles to their name already this year. Frankly, it would be stunning if any deciding doubles match went longer than two sets. You can get Peers and Thompson to win it with a -1.5 handicap at Unibet, and those odds are likely to be worth taking.
Aussies to pick up overall win?
In 2003, Australia won the Davis Cup – making it their 28th such title in the history of the competition. To date, it is also the last time they have won it, and a quick drill down into the records shows that they owed a lot of their success to Lleyton Hewitt – at the time, arguably the best men’s singles player in the world (unbeknownst to him that he was about to be swept away by The Federer Years). Along with Hewitt, the presence of Mark Philippoussis and the doubles alchemy provided by Todd Woodbridge made them near unbeatable.
This year, captained by Hewitt, could Australia win the title again? They’re priced at 11/2 by Betfair to do so, but we’d advise against backing them even though they arguably already have a foot in the semi-finals. The simple truth is that these finals are on clay, and in Spain. This makes Australia a less agreeable bet than – for example – Spain. There is a team at these finals that contains Rafael Nadal and the matches are being played on clay. With Spain at 6/4 with the same bookmaker, how do you not back the hosts?
Bets of the Day
Australia to win (Betway, 4/7); Spain to win Davis Cup (Betfair, 6/4); Peers/Thompson (-1.5) to beat Shapovalov/Pospisil (Unibet 13/10)