Davis Cup's oldest rivalry, U.S. vs. GB, will be renewed in first round of 2014
The 2014 Davis Cup draw was conducted today in London, England, and with the number of star-laden teams in next year's World Group, the first round is full of potentially blockbuster, hotly-contested ties.
The United States will host Andy Murray and Great Britain in first-round action, while Serbia will host Switzerland in what could be a blockbuster tie if Roger Federer decides to play.
The only negative surrounding the first round is the timing. The ties will be held over Super Bowl weekend from January 31st to February 2nd. Will tennis ever benefit from some good timing?
Here are four that we're looking forward to watching:
Great Britain at U.S.A.: The two teams that played the first Davis Cup tie in 1900 will meet for the first time since 1999. Team GB has been rejuvenated with the renewed commitment from Murray, and their two-year qualifying campaign has successfully put them back into the World Group for the first time since 2008. The biggest question facing U.S. Captain Jim Courier is which surface to choose. Does he go with the strengths of John Isner and Sam Querrey and put it on a quick hard court, or does he try and slow Murray down by laying down clay.
As for Britain, Murray may not be enough here. While wins over Isner and Querrey would be expected, can he really be asked to team with Colin Fleming to take out Davis Cup stalwarts Bob and Mike Bryan? If not, that will probably leave the fate of the tie in the hands of Dan Evans, who would have to beat either Isner or Querrey. The last time the Brits beat the U.S. Davis Cup team was 1935. Add that to the long list of droughts Murray has built his career on ending.
Switzerland at Serbia: So where do we start the petition to beg Federer to play this tie? The idea of Federer playing on genuinely hostile ground is intriguing, and it's arguably a scene we've never really witnessed before. He's a crowd favorite regardless of venue or opponent, but the prospect of a best-of-five tie-clinching match between Djokovic and Federer on clay in Belgrade Arena is a different story. The good news for Federer is he doesn't have to win this tie on his own. Assuming Stanislas Wawrinka plays, Switzerland actually may have the better team on balance.
Australia at France: There are no two deeper teams in Davis Cup than France and Spain. Both are more than capable of fielding a strong team without tapping their No. 1 players, so who knows who will be there for France when they host Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt. But one thing's for sure: This one will be played on clay.
Canada vs. Japan: Canada's follow-up campaign to their strong semifinal run will start in Japan, which isn't as inconvenient as it sounds given the tie takes place right after the Australian Open. Other ties: The Czech Republic will host the Netherlands, Germany will host Spain, Argentina hosts Italy and Kazakhstan hosts Belgium.