After many decades, the Davis Cup underwent significant changes for the 2019 edition, with just two rounds on the top-tier level and reduced format that includes best-of-three matches and two-day action instead of standard Friday-Sunday schedule.
The very first edition of Davis Cup Qualifiers took place during the weekend and it saw 24 countries fighting for 12 spots at Davis Cup finals that will take place in Madrid between November 18-24. With no best-of-five matches drama and an abandoned Sunday, it certainly didn't feel like a regular Davis Cup weekend we had for many decades but the show must go on for both the players and the fans who are not particularly happy about these radical changes implemented by ITF.
Belgium, Serbia, Italy, Russia, Canada, the Netherlands, Chile and Japan scored away wins to secure Madrid berth, joined by Australia, Germany, Kazakhstan and Colombia who celebrated at home to complete the line-up for Davis Cup finals draw that will take place in Madrid on February 14.
Instead of 16 teams and four groups with four countries, the organizers went for a strange 18-squad draw that includes 12 Davis Cup Qualifiers winners, four semi-finalists from 2018 and two wild cards given to Argentina and Great Britain.
Six groups with three countries will be created and they will compete in the round robin format from Monday to Thursday, with two singles and one doubles match in the best-of-three format. Six group winners and two most successful runner-up countries will book the place in the quarter-final on Friday, followed by two semi-finals on Saturday and the Sunday's clash that would determine the new Davis Cup champions.
The groups will be formed according to the latest Davis Cup ranking list and we have three pots with six teams, with France, Croatia, Argentina, Belgium, Great Britain and the USA standing as group leaders. In the second pot, Spain, Serbia, Australia, Italy, Germany and Kazakhstan will hope to draw Great Britain and Belgium, and all 12 nations would want to avoid Canada or Russia from the lowest-ranked pot.
Besides the Canadians and Russians who both scored away wins in Slovakia and Switzerland, there are Japan, Colombia, the Netherlands and Chile who will travel to Madrid as well and hope for a miracle against much stronger teams.
It will be exciting to follow the draw at the “Real Casa de Correos” and see how tough the groups will be, with a real chance to see "a group of death" with, for example, Croatia, Spain and Canada, or some weak groups with no players from the top. Three groups of seeded nations:
5. Great Britain
6. United States