Twelve months ago Milos Raonic made the Australian Open semifinals and actually came within a set of the final before losing to Andy Murray. This season, Raonic did relatively worse as he went out in straight sets in the quarterfinal round at Melbourne Park. But, just like last season, Raonic is injured following his efforts in the South Pacific and that could spell the end of Canada’s Davis Cup hopes:
“Tennis Canada has also announced that its No. 1, Milos Raonic, will be unavailable for the visit of the British team after the big-hitter was unable to recover from an adductor injury that he sustained at the Australian Open during his quarterfinal loss against Nadal” (DavisCup.com/January 30th).
The same article indicates that Rafael Nadal won’t represent Spain. However the Spanish side has much more depth to their tennis program than the Canadian one. Accordingly, the Spaniards, with Roberto Bautista-Agut, should handle the Croatians (currently without Marin Cilic listed as a nomination).
With Canada, they will now be relying on Vasek Pospisil to lead the way, and he’s not likely to do it. He can play well, but currently, Pospisil is ranked outside of the top 100. That Britain doesn’t appear as though they will have Andy Murray helps Canada a lot, however, Kyle Edmund and Daniel Evans are still among their current nominations. Both of those players are currently playing at a higher level than Pospisil.
This year there isn’t a big gap between the end of the Aussie and the start of the Davis Cup. Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer aren’t among the Swiss nominations. That should give the Americans a dunk in the first-round tie as they send out a very strong team in Jack Sock, John Isner, Sam Querrey, and Steve Johnson. Singles aside, Sock and Johnson won the Rio bronze medal last season. It’s hard to picture a Swiss team without Wawrinka or Federer mounting a serious challenge to stop the Americans from advancing to the 2nd round.
Another tie that looks as though it will be one sided is between Serbia and Russia. The Serbs have Novak Djokovic ready, perhaps a side effect of him going out early in Melbourne. If Djokovic had made the late rounds perhaps he too would be missing Davis Cup this weekend like Federer, Wawrinka, Raonic, and Nadal. However, he and Viktor Troicki promise to lead Serbia to the second round through a Russian side that doesn’t have a top player.
The Germans, with Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev, also look dangerous. They should be able to handle a Belgium side that currently does not have David Goffin among the listed nominations.
Nick Kyrgios, if he can keep his head together, looks dangerous against the Czech Republic, a side that doesn’t have Tomas Berydch among the nominations. Radek Stepanek and Jiri Vesely are the Czech’s main hopes, but if Kyrgios is playing well, then he should be able to get his side a couple of wins that will go a long way to securing victory.
Lastly, the French should be able to handle a Kei Nishikori-less Japanese team. Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon may not be at their best at this point, however, they still far outshine Japan’s peripheral players.
The nominations are all subject to change in the days ahead. If a top player re-enters or another one withdraws, then everything starts to change. However, right now the Serbs look great with the top player active in round one.