Sunday February 5th, 2012

Roger Federer is 41-12 in his Davis Cup career as the Swiss prepare to take on the U.S. in the first round of the World Group. (Matt King/Getty Images)

The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. This week’s focus is on the Davis Cup.

Davis Cup: Welcome to the Twilight Zone. Of the top five men, only one is playing Davis Cup this weekend, and that man is Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer have ruled themselves out of Spain's tie against Kazakhstan, while Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are sitting out Serbia's and Great Britain's ties against Sweden and the Slovak Republic, respectively, to rest and heal up. That leaves Roger.

Davis Cup is one of the few tiny holes in Federer's career resume, as the Swiss are still seeking their first Davis Cup title. And though Federer hasn't made it a top priority in the past, expect him to make a push this year with the Olympics coming up and Switzerland's strong presence in the World Group. He'll join his Swiss mates (read: Stan Wawrinka) when they host an American team led by Mardy Fish and John Isner in Fribourg, Switzerland. Federer & Co. shouldn't have too much difficulty with the Americans, who are without the services of Andy Roddick or new baby-daddy Bob Bryan, so the Davis Cup tie to watch for the weekend is happening north of the American border in Vancouver.

Canada is back in the World Group after a gutsy 2011 run in the fall, gaining promotion with the help of Vasek Pospisil's three-point run (three wins in three days) against Israel. The Canadians will field a healthy team of Milos Raonic, Pospisil, Frank Dancevic and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor as they take on an experienced, if not unpredictable, French team that's comprised of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra. Canada has been playfully trash-talking for months and it's time for its young stars to deliver.

In other ties, Alex Bogomolov Jr. makes his debut as the No. 1 Russian in their tie against Austria, Kei Nishikori will see what he can do as Japan takes on Croatia, and Germany hosts the Argentines, who will be without Juan Martin del Potro.

WTA action in Paris: Fresh off Russia's 3-2 victory over Spain in Fed Cup, Maria Sharapova tops a quality field in Paris, which includes: Li Na, Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges, and Jelena Jankovic. These women are coming straight from Fed Cup ties all over the world, so keep an eye on second-seeded Marion Bartoli. Despite being the top Frenchwoman, she was once against left off her Fed Cup team due to her ongoing feud with the French Federation of Tennis (their refusal to let her father coach her during the Fed Cup is one of many reasons), so she should be fresh for Paris. Here are a few first round matches to look out for in Paris: Lisicki vs. Lucie Safarova, Jelena Jankovic vs. Yanina Wickmayer and Christina McHale vs. Kaia Kanepi. If Lisicki can get past Safarova, she would be on track to meet Sharapova in the third round, a match that would be well worth watching.

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