MADRID (AFP) – Rafael Nadal’s Spain will host defending champions Croatia in the Davis Cup finals with the 17-time major winner set to be the only member of the sport’s big four taking part in the controversially rebooted tournament.
Nadal, who has played in four Davis Cup winning campaigns, has said he intends to take part in the new-look week-long event on home ground in Madrid from November 18-24.
However, long-time rivals Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will be missing.
Federer’s Switzerland didn’t qualify, Britain’s Murray has virtually retired while world number one Djokovic has said he intends to focus on the ATP World Team Cup to be staged in Australia in January.
That is despite Serbia having qualified as one of the 18 nations for the 2019 Davis Cup finals.
Despite its troubled revamp, Spanish football star Gerard Pique, whose Kosmos company is pouring $3 billion into a 25-year deal with the 119-year-old tournament, insisted at Thursday’s draw that the new Davis Cup will be a success.
”This means a lot, we have been working for more than a year, and we have created a great team to carry out this project,” Pique insisted.
”I think we are a great partner for the International Tennis Federation in this competition.”
Nadal, a Davis Cup champion in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011, will likely face Marin Cilic, Croatia’s top player who won both his singles in the 2018 Davis Cup final victory over France.
Russia, the two-time champions, make up Group B.
Ten-time champions France, 2010 winners Serbia and Japan contest Group A while 2016 victors Argentina, Germany and Chile are in Group C.
Argentina will be sweating on the fitness of regularly injured Juan Martin del Potro while Germany could be without world number three Alexander Zverev.
The ATP World Tour Finals champion played in last weekend’s qualifying round win against Hungary but has long insisted he has no interest in playing in the November finals, claiming he prefers to rest.
Group D sees Belgium and Colombia pooled with 28-time champions Australia while Britain, who have been champions on 10 occasions, Kazakhstan and Netherlands make up Group E.
Group F sees record 32-time winners United States clash with Italy and Canada.
Draw for Davis Cup finals to be held in Madrid from November 18-24:
Group A– France, Serbia, Japan
Group B– Croatia, Spain, Russia
Group C– Argentina, Germany, Chile
Group D– Belgium, Australia, Colombia
Group E– Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Netherlands
Group F– United States, Italy, Canada