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14 April 2014

Draw announced for World Group play-offs


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Photo: Paul ZimmerThe Davis Cup trophy

The Draw for the 2014 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-offs has handed Serbia and Spain difficult away trips to India and Brazil respectively on 12-14 September.

Argentina also face a fight to remain in the World Group following Tuesday’s draw, with Martin Jaite's four-time runners-up due to travel to Israel.

Australia, Canada and USA were given more favourable home draws, with Pat Rafter’s men hosting Uzbekistan, USA taking on Slovak Republic and Canada granted a home tie, albeit a challenging one, against Colombia.

The remaining two ties see Croatia travel to Netherlands in a draw decided by lot, and Ukraine set to host Belgium.

The Top 3 seeds in Tuesday's draw in particular will have plenty to think about in advance of September's semifinals as they seek to avoid an upset.

Serbia will face India for the second time in three years in a bid to maintain its World Group status, having defeated the nation 4-1 on India’s most recent foray into the top tier of the competition in the first round in 2011.

Bogdan Obradovic’s men, who lost 3-2 to Switzerland in the World Group first round in February, has not featured in zonal competition since 2007, the year it defeated Australia in the World Group play-offs to secure top tier status for the first time, and will be desperate to avoid a return to Europe/Africa Zone Group I.

Moya’s Spain have dominated Davis Cup over the past decade and a half, with five titles since 2000, but will have to defeat Brazil to avoid dropping into zonal competition for the first time since 1996.

The two nations have not crossed paths since 1999, when Gustavo Kuerten inspired Brazil to a 3-2 victory, and a Brazilian side boasting the likes of Thomaz Bellucci and doubles specialists Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares have good reason to be confident of springing an upset at home.

Argentina, defeated by this year’s semifinalist Italy in the World Group first round, travel to Israel for the first time. The Argentine team won both of the previous two meetings between the two nations – in 1958 and 1990 – without losing so much as a rubber, but the match-up is sure to provide a far greater test on away soil.

Canada will play at home for the fifth time in seven Davis Cup ties when they meet Colombia for the 10th time. Colombia has won two of the last three clashes between the two nations but has never won on Canadian soil.

That said, with the likes of Alejandro Falla, Santiago Giraldo and doubles specialists Juan Sebastien Cabal and Robert Farah to call on, Mauricio Hadad’s visiting team has a real shot at reaching the World Group for the first time in history.

A home tie is good news for Australia, who has played its last five Davis Cup ties on the road in a run that included a 3-1 victory over its upcoming opponent Uzbekistan.

Rafter's team will be determined to retain its World Group spot for a second year running, having worked tirelessly to reach the top tier for the first time since 2007 this year, only to suffer a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Arnaud Clement's France in the first round.

Croatia, relegated from the World Group last year following defeat to Great Britain in the play-offs in Umag, is also looking for a quick return to the elite group when it takes on Netherlands for the first time.

Ukraine and Belgium complete September's play-off draw, with the former granted its first home tie in a World Group play-off following an unsuccessful attempt against the same opponent in 2009 and against Spain last year.

The draw is as follows:

2014 World Group play-offs (12-14 September)

India (c) v Serbia (s)
Brazil (c) v Spain (s)  
Israel (c) v Argentina (s)
Canada (s) (c) v Colombia
USA (s) (c) v Slovak Republic
Australia (s) (c) v Uzbekistan
Netherlands (c) (*) v Croatia (s)
Ukraine (c) v Belgium (s)

(s) denotes seeded nation
(c) denotes choice of ground
(*) denotes choice of ground determined by lot

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