IN the fourth of our Davis Cup group previews, we take a look at Group D. The group is an interesting one, with Australia tipped to advance given the strength and upside of its top two singles players, but the consistency of Belgium and the experience of Colombia makes it a tantalising group for the competition.
Alex de Minaur
Captain: Lleyton Hewitt
Captain: Johan Van Herck
Juan Sebastian Cabal
Captain: Pablo Gonzalez
Monday, November 18 – Belgium vs. Colombia
Tuesday, November 19 – Australia vs. Colombia
Wednesday, November 20 – Belgium vs. Australia
Thursday, November 21 – Winner of Group D vs. Winner of Group F
There is no doubt that if Australia plays to its potential, they should advance past both Belgium and Colombia. The Aussies have enough strength in the singles that they are a genuine title contender, but could also be bundled out in the group stage if they are not focused. The combination of Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios is very strong and realistically at their best, they win both singles against both these opponents – with David Goffin the main obstacle. Kyrgios is the only player to have beaten Novak Djokovic without losing to the Serbian star, so on his day, he can beat anyone, but at his worst we know that he is capable of a capitulation. Assuming they are firing, the Aussies could well head into the doubles with everything wrapped up, but have included specialist doubles player John Peers (ranked 26th in the format) to partner up with most likely Jordan Thompson. John Millman will be the spare singles player who will always put in 100 per cent but just lacks that touch of X-factor that both de Minaur and Kyrgios bring. But if form starts to waiver from either of the young guns, then Millman can provide that experience and composure on-court. Australia opted for Thompson as the fourth singles player – number 64 in the world as a potential back-up in the singles – rather than Luke Saville – the next highest ranked doubles player behind Peers. Realistically, if Kyrgios and de Minaur are on their games, it is hard to see them getting beaten here.
A lot rests on the shoulders of Goffin with the world number 11 the highest ranked player in the group, but he also knows the danger that de Minaur and particularly Kyrgios pose in this group. With the next highest ranked Belgiums being Steve Darcis (157th) and Kimmer Coppejans (158), there is a far gap for the second singles and it is hard to see either beating the opposite Australian. In other words, if Goffin loses, it is game over for Belgium. The positive for Belgium is the two doubles players in Jordan Vliegen and Sander Gille – are ranked 37th and 45th in the format – which will help them against Australia. It gives Goffin some relief that if he is to win his singles, then the doubles team should be able to back-up with a victory – except against Colombia who possess the world number ones in the format. In terms of progression, even if Belgium beat an out-of-sorts Australia to make it through to the knockout stage, a likely meeting with either Canada or Italy awaits, which is hard to see them troubling either of those sides. But making it through to the next round would be a big accomplishment given the group and power of Australia.
Good luck beating Colombia in the doubles format, with world number ones, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah the clear standouts not just at the tournament, but on the circuit as a whole. The South American nation can pencil in a win for that match, with unfortunately the only issue being the fact that the overall result will be done before they get to step out onto the court. Daniel Galan is Colombia’s top player at 193rd in the world and Santiago Giraldo – while better than his ranking at 278th – is still 31 years of age and not getting any younger. Add in the 468th ranked Alejandro Gonzalez and it would not be surprising for Colombia to not win a singles in the group – in fact their best chance will come against either Darcis or Coppejans, but even then it will be tough. Probably the lowest ranked singles combination at the tournament. If you love an underdog story, then Colombia might be the team for you.
Belgium defeat Colombia 2-1
Australia defeat Colombia 2-1
Australia defeat Belgium 2-1
Expect Australia to progress to the next stage credit to their X-factor and could meet anyone of the USA, Italy or Canada.