Great Britain upset the ITF Davis Cup odds last year and this year one would not be surprised if the title winner came from a fair way down the original betting list again.
Novak Djokovic is head and shoulders above his men’s tennis rivals and that is why bookmakers have installed Serbia as the ITF Davis Cup favourite. But one questions Djokovic’s commitment to the ITF Davis Cup in an Olympic Games year when, along with a French Open title, a gold medal is all that is missing from the Serbian’s trophy cabinet. Serbia cannot win the ITF Davis Cup without Djokovic carrying a heavy load and, having ticked that particular box in 2010, one suspects that his priorities lie elsewhere in 2016.
France is the ITF Davis Cup’s perennial underachiever – it won its ninth and most recent title in 2001 – and its star players are not getting any younger. France has terrific strength in depth but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is its highest ranked man at number nine and he, along with the likes of Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, does not strike fear into the hearts of opponents. France has a new captain in Yannick Noah but one thinks that the French are likely to fall into old habits and fall short once more.
Australia is the general ITF Davis Cup third favourite at odds of +800 with several bookmakers, including Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill, and it is the Australians who represent the most appealing bet on the eve of the World Group getting under way with eight ties around the globe.
Lleyton Hewitt has succeeded Wally Masur as Australia’s ITF Davis Cup captain and, if there is a man on the planet who loves the tournament more than Rusty, one does not know of him. Hewitt helped Australia to win the ITF Davis Cup twice – first in 1999 and second in 2003 – and, even though his form tailed off in the latter years of his stellar career, he saved his best for when he represented his country.
Australia’s promising young players – Thanasi Kokkinakis, Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic – have reputations for being hard to handle but each of them views Hewitt as a legend and one expects that they will give the cliched 100 per cent for their nation because Rusty is in the captain’s chair. John Peers is not a household name outside his own house but the Melbourne-born doubles specialist partnered Jamie Murray to two Grand Slam finals in 2015 and he is a handy player to have in one’s squad given the ITF Davis Cup format.
The United States of America are Australia’s first ITF Davis Cup opponent and the Australians have home advantage for the tie that will start in Melbourne on Friday. Australian has elected to play the United States of America on grass and, contrary to popular opinion, the green stuff is not the preferred surface of American number one John Isner, hence why the Australians have chosen it. Krygios and Tomic, wound up by Hewitt, ought to have sufficient grass-court nous to get the better of a United States of America team featuring Isner, Jack Sock and the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike.
According to the ITF Davis Cup’s rules regarding choice of grounds, Australia would host 10 of its possible 14 future foes – the only sides whom the Australians would have to tackle on foreign soil would be Belgium, Kazakhstan, Japan and Switzerland. According to the early betting lines on the ITF Davis Cup World Group’s first batch of ties, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Japan and Switzerland are underdogs versus Croatia, Serbia, Great Britain and Italy respectively.
The ITF Davis Cup draw is kind to Australia and one would be hard pressed to find a team that will treat the competition more seriously. The ITF Davis Cup betting market is one of the most volatile in international sport but Australia looks like a sound investment at odds of +800 for its 29th title.
Starting this week, the ITF Davis Cup will continue through July and September with the final scheduled for November.
Australia to win the Davis Cup
March to November 2016
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