Analysing the Favourites
Here are the favourites for this year’s tournament, with the odds taken from the Davis Cup outright market on Oct 18.
Spain 5/2 – A formidable home record (26 consecutive victories and counting) and Rafael Nadal make Spain worthy favourites.
France 5/1 – Progression from the group may depend on who can step up against Novak Djokovic, but France can call on the likes of Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille, who helped them triumph in 2017.
Croatia 6/1 – Croatia are unlikely to defend their title, and may struggle to make it out of their group, which contains Spain and Russia.
Serbia 13/2 – Djokovic has a strong supporting cast of Filip Krajinovic and Dusan Lajovic; their group stage battle against France will be key to Serbia’s chances.
USA 8/1 – The US are the most successful nation in Davis Cup history, but their current roster may lack the big-match experience to get past the group stage.
Australia 8/1 – Strength across the board should help Australia to top their group shared with Belgium and Colombia. Momentum and the resilient Alex de Minaur could take them even further.
Russia 8/1 – Russia are genuine contenders for the title with Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov in their ranks – if they get out of their group with Croatia and Spain then they will fear no-one.
Three of the top seven favourites will start their Davis Cup finals campaign in the same group, as Group B contains Spain, Croatia and Russia. Spain are many people’s pre-tournament pick and head the betting markets, which would make it a huge shock if they fail to progress.
Russia haven’t been anywhere near as impressive as Croatia in recent Davis Cups, but the 2019 tournament comes at a good time for them. Medvedev is in the form of his life, with many now tipping him to win his first Grand Slam title next year. If placed in any other group, Russia’s price would be significantly shorter.
The winner of France vs Serbia should top Group A, which also includes a Japan side that may be without Kei Nishikori. Both France and Serbia have lifted the cup in the past decade, but it could be the Djokovic factor that sees Serbia through. USA and Australia will field strong teams, but they may lack the X-factor to be genuine title contenders.
The Best of the Rest
Canada 24/1 – Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov have very bright futures, but they’re pretty good in the present already. Canada may also be able to call on Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and Wimbledon doubles champ Vasek Pospisil.
Italy 24/1 – It may be that only one of Italy and Canada progresses past the group, but whichever nation will have a great chance to make it all the way to the final. With Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini delivering the best tennis of their careers, Italy’s price is on the large side.
Kazakhstan 99/1 – Kazakhstan probably won’t win the Davis Cup this time around, but there could be value in backing them to win certain ties or to progress from the group. Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik are players that can reach high levels on their day – the question is whether they will have enough of those days in Spain.
This may be the last Davis Cup for years where Canada aren’t a leading favourite, with their young players already posting impressive numbers. Auger-Aliassime has a 9/9 record against top-2o players while still just 19-years-old. He’s yet to make an impression on a Slam, but the Davis Cup could be his breakout major tournament.
Berrettini made a huge impression on his run to the US Open semi-final this year, and he backed it up with a semi-final in Shanghai. Keep an eye on his performance if he makes it to the World Tour Finals the week before the Davis Cup. If Berrettini still has momentum, he could make the 24/1 on Italy look very generous. Fognini is capable of anything, but his 28/13 Davis Cup record shows that he generally brings his best for his country.
Kazakhstan won’t fear Great Britain, with or without Andy Murray. Netherlands complete Group E, with the Dutch side arguably the weakest in the tournament. Even if Kazakhstan lose to GB, they could perform strongly enough across their two ties to qualify as one of the two best runners-up.
Comparing Odds and Player Rankings
The player ranking stats are taken from the ATP Live Race as of October 18, which only counts ranking points accumulated this season. These stats indicate that Spain’s status as favourites is deserved, and that Kazakhstan have the best chance of the outsiders. The graph also suggests that Russia, Argentina, Canada and Italy should have shorter prices in the outright market, based solely on the strength of their singles players.
These stats don’t tell the whole story, though – stats never do. Colombia have the weakest singles options, but in Cabal and Farah, they have the two best doubles players in the world. However, doubles rankings are less useful for Davis Cup predictions. Many of the world’s best singles players only sporadically play doubles, but many of them will do so in Spain. Also, there is no guarantee that the players referenced above will make it to Spain. Japan’s Nishikori boosts their average ranking, but he may miss out through injury.
Croatia will throw everything into their title defence, although being drawn in a group with Russia and Spain was the worst possible start. Here’s how previous title defences have fared:
France almost emulated the Czech Republic’s title defence, but Croatia stood in their way last year. As the first reigning champion in this new Davis Cup format, Croatia won’t want to fall at the first hurdle and crash out in the group stage. Spain and Russia may have other ideas.
Davis Cup performances produce a ranking of nations, but how useful are they in shaping our predictions for this year’s tournament? The rankings take matches from the last four years into account, with more weight given to recent performances. Nations gain points based on their results, the strength of their opponents, and the level of competition.
If the Davis Cup ranking determined who made it to the finals, the bottom five teams wouldn’t be heading to Spain. Russia are the biggest jumpers, considered joint-fifth favourite for the title despite their lowly Davis Cup ranking. At the other end of the spectrum, Belgium’s Davis Cup ranking suggests that they are a nation for the big occasions, who can often upset fancied opponents. Their run to the finals in 2015 and 2017 is proof. If you value Davis Cup form over the form of individuals, then Belgium are the most attractive betting option. Otherwise, there isn’t a massive disparity between most nations’ Davis Cup rankings and their position in the outright market.
Group A: 1. Serbia, 2. France, 3. Japan
Group B: 1. Spain, 2. Russia, 3. Croatia
Group C: 1. Argentina, 2. Germany, 3. Chile
Group D: 1. Australia, 2. Colombia, 3. Belgium
Group E: 1. Kazakhstan, 2. Great Britain, 3. Netherlands
Group F: 1. Italy, 2. Canada, 3. United States
Quarter-final 1: Russia to beat Serbia
Quarter-final 2: Italy to beat Australia
Quarter-final 3: Argentina to beat Kazakhstan
Quarter-final 4: Spain to beat Great Britain
Semi-final 1: Russia to beat Italy
Semi-final 2: Spain to beat Argentina
Final: Russia to beat Spain
We don’t yet know the players that will be selected, and it is difficult to anticipate which two nations might go through as the best runners-up. This scenario puts forward Great Britain and eventual winners Russia, but it could as easily be tournament favourites Spain or 100/1 shot Colombia who make it through in second place.
However, there are a few clear areas of value for this year’s Davis Cup.
Russia, 8/1 – Spain present an incredibly persuasive case that their Davis Cup dominance on home soil will continue. If you want a strong favourite on side, then the 5/2 for Spain is hard to resist. However, Russia are real value at 8/1. While Nadal prevailed at the US Open, Medvedev is now the hottest player on the ATP tour. A lot hinges on the Russia vs Spain match in the group stage – the winner of that could well be the winner of the tournament.
Italy, 24/1 – Italy have a tough group to negotiate, but they should have the right balance of experience and form to overcome Canada and the US. Italy would then be favourites in a likely quarter-final tie with Australia. If Berrettini and Fognini are in top gear, then few will be able to slow them down.
Back Kazakhstan to progress – Kazakhstan may not be value as an outright (although there’s a hefty 99/1 for anyone who is interested), but they pose a difficult threat to Great Britain. Once group markets and individual ties are priced up, Kazakhstan could be backed to upset the more established Davis Cup sides.
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