World Group action starts in

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21 January 2014

France looks strong as World Group nominations revealed


NEWS ARTICLE

Clockwise from top right: Tomas Berdych (CZE) and Radek Stepanek (CZE); The Canadian team; Andy Murray (GBR) and Colin Fleming (GBR); Richard Gasquet (FRA) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)

The nominations for the World Group first round ties have been announced and there are some surprises all round.

France has opted for strength in depth in singles, by naming a team that includes two Top 10 singles players in No. 9 Richard Gasquet and No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as well as No. 32 Gael Monfils and No. 38 Julien Benneteau.

The French will not know what to expect from their Australian visitors for the opening round clash in La Roche sur Yon as captain Pat Rafter has named two juniors in his side to play in the Antipodeans' first World Group tie since 2007.

Davis Cup stalwart Lleyton Hewitt will lead an inexperienced team that includes teenagers Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis as well as doubles go-to man Chris Guccione.

"We believe we have a chance," said Rafter. "These kids, they're pretty exceptional in many ways. There is an element of bleeding them into the team - no doubt about that - and give them that exposure.

"How they deal with that, I think they'll deal with it really well. I think they're going to love the atmosphere and the occasion.

"Davis Cup has a tradition of throwing up some upsets. When you've got youth and energy on your side, you have passion, you always have a chance.

"Davis Cup is a great platform. It's helped a lot of people, including myself. I don't see why this will be any different for these two boys."

Reigning champions Czech Republic have named a full-strength line-up to take on Netherlands in Ostrava.

The Czechs welcome back captain Jaroslav Navratil, who will oversee his dynamic duo of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek in their bid for a third consecutive Davis Cup title.

There are no surprises with the team to represent Netherlands as Jan Siemerink has nominated Robin Haase, Igor Sijsling, Thiemo de Bakker and Jean-Julien Rojer to play the defending champions.

The first tie of the weekend time-wise is sure to be a closely contested affair as Japan and Canada have both named their top players.

World No. 17 Kei Nishikori will lead the host nation against a Canadian side that contains World No. 11 Milos Raonic and the up-and-coming Vasek Pospisil.

Canada is looking to improve on last year's performance when the North Americans reached the World Group semifinals for the first time. Japan is hoping to win a first World Group tie.

The tie between USA and Great Britain looks set to be a thriller. The hosts have named John Isner and Sam Querrey to contest the singles and the Bryan brothers to play in the doubles.

Britain, meanwhile, have named world No. 4 Andy Murray, James Ward, youngster Kyle Edmund and doubles expert Colin Fleming.

Murray is expected to play on all three days, whereas Edmund, who won a Futures title on clay last week, is expected to serve more of a purpose as a practice partner.

Switzerland will be without Roger Federer for its trip to Serbia. The Swiss will be led by Stanislas Wawrinka, who defeated Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

They take on a Serbian team that will be without either world No. 2 Novak Djokovic or Janko Tipsarevic. Instead, the Serbians will turn to Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic in singles with Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic in doubles.

Germany welcomes back Tommy Haas for its first round tie against Spain. Haas has played just once for Germany since 2007 and will be hoping to make the difference against a tough opponent.

Backing up the 35-year-old will be Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer, with Daniel Brands set to partner one of the above in the doubles.

Carlos Moya's first tie as Davis Cup captain could be a tricky one as the Mallorcan has to face Germany on an indoor hard court without either world No. 1 Rafael Nadal or No. 3 David Ferrer on his team.

Instead, Spain will be led by Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco with back-up in singles from Roberto Bautista Agut. The doubles team will likely be Verdasco and David Marrero.

Argentina is aiming to continue its fabulous record of always reaching at least the World Group quarterfinals every year since 2002, but the South Americans face a stern test from an in-form Italian outfit.

Argentina has named Carlos Berlocq and Juan Monaco in singles, with Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank expected to make up the doubles partnership.

Italy has gone with its strongest possible line-up, naming No. 16 Fabio Fognini and No. 25 Andreas Sepppi alongside Filippo Volandri and Simone Bolelli.

And lastly, Belgium will make the trip to Astana to play Kazakhstan in the first round.

David Goffin returns from a thigh injury to lead an expectant nation in arguably the easiest draw for his team. He will be supported by Ruben Bemelmans, Oliver Rochus and Germain Gigounon.

The Kazakhs have a tried and trusted unit to call upon, with Mikhail Kukushkin once again leading the charge alongside Andrey Golubev. They will be backed up by Yevgeny Korolev and new boy Denis Yevseyev.

The full nominations are listed below:

WORLD GROUP FIRST ROUND

CZECH REPUBLIC v NETHERLANDS
Venue: CEZ Arena, Ostrava, CZE (hard – indoor) 

Czech Republic
Tomas Berdych
Radek Stepanek
Lukas Rosol
Jiri Vesely
Captain: Jaroslav Navratil

Netherlands
Robin Haase
Igor Sijsling
Thiemo de Bakker
Jean-Julien Rojer
Captain: Jan Siemerink

JAPAN v CANADA
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, JPN (hard – indoor)

Japan
Kei Nishikori
Go Soeda
Yuichi Sugita
Yasutaka Uchiyama
Captain: Minoru Ueda

Canada
Milos Raonic
Vasek Pospisil
Frank Dancevic
Daniel Nestor
Captain: Martin Laurendeau

GERMANY v SPAIN
Venue: Fraport Arena, Frankfurt, GER (hard – indoor)

Germany
Tommy Haas
Philipp Kohlschreiber
Florian Mayer
Daniel Brands
Captain: Carsten Arriens

Spain
Feliciano Lopez
Fernando Verdasco
Roberto Bautista Agut
David Marrero
Captain: Carlos Moya

FRANCE v AUSTRALIA
Venue: Vendéspance, La Roche sur Yon, FRA (clay – indoor)

France
Richard Gasquet
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Gael Monfils
Julien Benneteau
Captain: Arnaud Clement

Australia
Lleyton Hewitt
Nick Kyrgios
Christopher Guccione
Thanasi Kokkinakis
Captain: Patrick Rafter

USA v GREAT BRITAIN
Venue: Petco Park, San Diego, CA, USA (clay – outdoor)

USA
John Isner
Sam Querrey
Mike Bryan
Bob Bryan
Captain: Jim Courier

Great Britain
Andy Murray
James Ward
Kyle Edmund
Colin Fleming
Captain: Leon Smith

ARGENTINA v ITALY
Venue: Patinodromo Municipal “Adalberto Lugea”, Mar del Plata, ARG (clay – outdoor)

Argentina
Carlos Berlocq
Juan Monaco
Horacio Zeballos
Eduardo Schwank
Captain: Martin Jaite

Italy
Fabio Fognini
Andreas Seppi
Filippo Volandri
Simone Bolelli
Captain: Corrado Barazzutti

KAZAKHSTAN v BELGIUM
Venue: National Tennis Centre, Astana, KAZ (hard – indoor)

Kazakhstan
Mikhail Kukushkin
Andrey Golubev
Evgeny Korolev
Denis Yevseyev
Captain: Dias Doskarayev

Belgium
David Goffin
Ruben Bemelmans
Olivier Rochus
Germain Gigounon
Captain: Johan van Herck

SERBIA v SWITZERLAND
Venue: Spens Sport Centre, Novi Sad, SRB (hard – indoor)

Serbia
Dusan Lajovic
Filip Krajinovic
Ilija Bozoljac
Nenad Zimonjic
Captain: Bogdan Obradovic

Switzerland
Stanislas Wawrinka
Marco Chiudinelli
Henri Laaksonen
Michael Lammer
Captain: Severin Luthi

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