Davis Cup 2017: Good draw can see Germany go far

The tour takes a break in week five of the season and we focus on the 2017 Davis Cup, with round one ties set to be played later in the week.

And now that the Australian Open is done and dusted we have more of an idea which of the big names will be missing from international action this weekend.

Novak Djokovic is still playing, but there’s no Rafa Nadal for Spain, Marin Cilic for Croatia, nor Milos Raonic or Andy Murray in the Canada versus Great Britain tie.

Neither Roger Federer nor Stan Wawrinka have been named in the Switzerland side against the USA, for whom the Bryan brothers have retired from Davis Cup duty.

David Goffin won’t play for Belgium nor Bernard Tomic for Australia, while Argentina are missing Juan Martin Del Potro and Horacio Zeballos, plus Leo Mayer has just become a father, so may also be out.

Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils all miss out too, so it’s a case of strength in depth for a lot of these teams, which, of course, is what the Davis Cup should be about rather than one man carrying the rest.

All of which leads me to like the look of 21.0 shots Germany, who look strong and who have two home ties to kick things off with in 2017.

The Germans have had their fair share of problems in Davis Cup in recent years, but a side comprised of the Zverev brothers, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Jan-Lennard Struff looks solid and they begin with a home tie against a Belgian side without Goffin.

If Argentina beat Italy then the Germans would be at home against the defending champions in the quarter finals and this top half of the World Group draw looks wide open, with the Czech Republic, USA, Switzerland and Australia the rest of the nations in this half.

Switzerland have no chance of beating the USA without Fed and Stan and the Aussies look short, with the injury prone Nick Kyrgios their only player of real quality now that Tomic is in dispute (again) with Tennis Australia.

The Czechs are without Tomas Berdych and you’ve got to question how much Radek Stepanek has left in the tank at 37, with the ATP Tour to focus on as well.

That leaves the USA, who are the dangers, with a strong quartet of John Isner, Jack Sock, Stevie Johnson and Sam Querrey, but they will miss the Bryans, who have played most of the doubles rubbers for them in recent years.

The Americans would have a home tie in the quarter finals against either Australia or the Czech Republic, but where they may well come unstuck is at the semi final stage.

The USA would be away from home against either Italy, Argentina or Germany and that would surely mean on indoor clay the week after the US Open and that would be a tough ask for a team so dependent on big serving on fast courts.

The Americans haven’t won an away semi final since they last won the Davis Cup in 2007 and they’ve lost six of their last seven away ties at the semi final stage going back to 1994.

And Germany look best placed to take advantage if they can keep the Zverev brothers (and Kohlschreiber) fit and they could conceivably emulate the Murray brothers in 2017.

The bottom half of the draw looks far more competitive, with recent winners GB, Serbia, and Spain drawn alongside recent runners-up France and Croatia.

Spain look to have a gimme in round one against a Croatia side without Marin Cilic, Borna Coric or Ivo Karlovic and they shouldn’t really need Nadal to win that one.

They’ll most likely face an away tie against Serbia in the last eight though and that one could come down to another Nadal/Djokovic battle.

GB will surely beat a Canada side missing Raonic even without Murray to guide them this time and France will be too strong for a Japan team without Nishikori, so once again much will depend on Murray in the quarter finals for Britain.

But the top half of the draw looks far more open and much more interesting to me, with Germany holding an excellent chance at a big price and Italy the next best at even larger odds.

Best Bets
1.5 points each way Germany at 21.0
1 point each way Italy at 34.0