FRESH off the back of the US Open, 16 nations will compete across four cities as the 2022 Davis Cup Group Finals gets underway today. There will be a new champion crowned after reigning titleholder Russia will not be in attendance due to being suspended from the competition following the nations’ invasion of Ukraine. It means Croatia (runners-up in 2021) assumes the top seed, with semi-finalists Germany and Serbia also in attendance at the event. We preview the four groups at the event.
Group A features the top-seeded nation in Croatia up against the likely Group favourites Italy, the highly competitive Argentina, and underdogs Sweden. The Croatians will lead their title defence minus top ranked talent Marin Cilic, but have the reinvigorated Borna Coric. Unfortunately the depth is not there due to Cilic’s absence, with the second singles being a weakness with Borna Gojo the next highest after Coric at 176th in the world. They come up against a strong Italian side featuring US Open quarter finalists Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini. The Croatians doubles pairing of Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic will have the upper hand against Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli.
Argentina is a potential to finish second in the group if Diego Schwartzman can defeat Coric, with the depth of the South Americans greater than the Croatians thanks to the likes of Francisco Cerundolo and Sebastian Baez. As for the Swedes, the Ymer brothers – Mikael and Elias – are the only two of note and are ranked lower than their respective opponents, with the European nation the underdogs in the group.
PREDICTION: 1. Italy 2. Croatia 3. Argentina 4. Sweden
- Republic of Korea
Group B feature three heavyweights who are all missing Top 20 players, as well as the lowest ranked nation by total singles rankings. Spain will be the heavy favourites in the group, though it is unsure if new world number one Carlos Alcaraz will take part given his tiring run to the US Open title the past week. He has plenty of support if the chooses to play later in the week, with 18th ranked Roberto Bautista Agut and 42nd ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the side. Former world number one and 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal will not compete. Similarly reigning runners-up Canada will be without Denis Shapovalov, with Felix Auger-Aliassime a late call-up. He and Vasek Pospisil will likely do all the heavy lifting alongside a couple of youngsters.
Serbia is a solid overall side even with former world number one Novak Djokovic, with Top 50 players Miomir Kecmanovic and Filip Krajinovic capable of causing upsets, particularly with a strong second singles player in that scenario. Nikola Cacic being the specialist doubles player could be a huge help, and Serbia would be odds on to crack into that second spot given the depth, though Canada will be tricky for the nation. South Korea on the other hand do not have the same depth, with only Soonwoo Kwon inside the Top 100 (81st) so the Asian nation is not predicted to make waves.
PREDICTION: 1. Spain 2. Serbia 3. Canada 4. Republic of Korea
Group C is arguably the toughest group to pick, with the top three sides very even, and all being able to balance between singles and doubles players. Germany should be the favourite in the group, with Alexander Zverev the only player inside the Top 20. The former world number two – now fifth in the world – will likely account for all of his opponents giving Germany a one-up on their competition. With the fact their doubles pairing is one of the strongest in the tournament, the combo of Tim Puetz and Kevin Krawietz is also favoured to win any deciding ties. Oscar Otte and Jan-Lennard Struff are both more than competent second singles players to round out a really consistent squad. Speaking of consistent, the French team of Adrian Mannarino, Benjamin Bonzi, Arthur Rinderknech and Richard Gasquet provides outstanding depth, while Nicholas Mahut is an elite doubles player. On paper their rankings have them ahead of Australia, but it will not be easy.
Australian duo of Alex de Minaur and Thanasi Kokkinakis are fighters, and though the latter is inconsistent, has the potential to beat any of the Frenchmen on his day. The top-ranked de Minaur should also claim a win in the singles, while Jason Kubler has been in terrific form over the past couple of months. If they can claim both singles, then they will get the job done, but would not want to rely on the doubles against France. Belgium is the clear fourth side, though David Goffin at his best is a Top 20 player. He will simply have to win his singles to be any chance, with the 154th ranked Zizou Bergs punching above his weight division in the group. The doubles combination of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen gives Belgium hope if Goffin can grab a win.
PREDICTION: 1. Germany 2. Australia 3. France 4. Belgium
- United States
- Great Britain
Group D is an interesting one and very similar to Group A in many ways. There is a clear standout nation in Great Britain, a massive underdog in Kazakhstan, and two other nations likely to battle it out for the second qualification spot in United States and Netherlands. Looking at Great Britain first, the doubles combination of Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski is outstanding and caps off a really strong singles combination. Cameron Norrie has been in ridiculous form the past 12 months to be inside the Top 10, while Daniel Evans and Andy Murray are very different players, providing captain Leon Smith with options. The Brits would be disappointed not to cruise through this group, though if they did stumble it would be more likely to the Americans. The United States are inconsistent, lead by Taylor Fritz who has some incredible talent, and the up-and-coming Tommy Paul. US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe was meant to play but his long run at Flushing Meadows earned him a rest. Instead, the doubles pairing of Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram means there is little wriggle room for the Americans.
Netherlands is a side that has really improved over the past 12-18 months, with the rankings bolter in Botic Van de Zandschulp now entrenched inside the Top 30. Alongside the recent grass success of Tim van Rijthoven, the pair have bulked up a nation that was previously left to the likes of Tallon Griekspoor to carry the bulk of the load. Now they have a dangerous singles combination that could cause upsets, and may only need to win the one singles, with the doubles of Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop also strong. The only issue when facing the United States will be that the respective opponents might be that touch too strong. Kazakhstan rounds out the previews with its usual lineup, highlighted by the tricky Alexander Bublik. As the only Kazakhstani inside the Top 200, it is hard to see the Middle Eastern nation causing too many troubles, though Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov are far from the worst doubles pairing if Bublik can cause a boilover.
PREDICTION: 1. Great Britain 2. United States 3. Netherlands 4. Kazakhstan