Tennis: Tennis-No Nadal however Alcaraz set to shine in Spain’s Davis Cup defence

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(Reuters) – Holders Spain lastly get the possibility to try to retain their Davis Cup crown when the competitors resumes in yet one more new format throughout three European cities this week with all eyes on teenager Carlos Alcaraz within the absence of Rafa Nadal.

Two years in the past within the inaugural version of the revamped workforce occasion, a Nadal-inspired Spain claimed the title after an exhausting week in Madrid’s Caja Magica.

The pandemic scuppered final yr’s 18-nation Davis Cup Finals and since then the Worldwide Tennis Federation (ITF) and companions Kosmos Tennis have moved to make the occasion extra manageable, with Turin and Innsbruck added as co-hosts.

Beginning on Thursday, the 18 finalists will compete in six teams of three with eight qualifying for the knockout rounds and the ultimate going down in Madrid on Dec. 5.

The spectre of COVID-19 has returned, nevertheless, and the 2 teams being staged in Innsbruck could have no followers cheering them on after Austria’s reintroduction of a lockdown.

Impossibly late finishes to ties (comprising of two singles and a doubles) and smallish crowds for some matches tarnished what was an encouraging debut for the revamped Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in 2019, which is why it has been expanded to 10 days throughout three nations this time.

However Spain will really feel proper at residence with Group A, which additionally features a highly effective Russian workforce and Ecuador, in Madrid.

They won’t have talisman Nadal although as he continues his restoration from a foot damage. As a substitute, the main focus will probably be on Alcaraz, the 18-year-old being tipped because the participant almost certainly to fill the void when 20-time Grand Slam champion Nadal retires.

Alcaraz will probably be making his debut within the competitors and will probably be joined by Roberto Bautista Agut, one of many heroes of 2019 when Spain beat Canada within the last, in addition to Pablo Carreno Busta, Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers.

“It was a dream that I had since I used to be a toddler and with the ability to make my debut is tremendous stunning and tremendous particular,” Alcaraz, the world quantity 32, mentioned this week.

“It is going to be a tough problem as a result of just one workforce positively will get by way of within the group and Russia has a fantastic workforce, however I belief loads within the Spanish workforce.”

Spain start on Friday towards Ecuador.

RUSSIA FAVOURITES

On paper Russia look favourites, with world quantity two Daniil Medvedev and world quantity 5 Andrey Rublev spearheading their problem, however Serbia could have world primary Novak Djokovic of their ranks in Group F in Innsbruck.

Serbia are up towards Austria and a Germany aspect lacking their high participant Alexander Zverev.

“The (Olympiahalle) enviornment is nice. It is a pity that we will not have an viewers,” Austria’s Dennis Novak mentioned.

“We have now been trying ahead to this week for one and a half years — so now we’ll give our all.”

Britain, semi-finalists in 2019, are with out Andy Murray however with in-form Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans they are going to be assured of progressing from Group C which additionally consists of France and the Czech Republic.

The US, Davis Cup champions a report 32 instances, are in Group E in Turin alongside Italy and Colombia.

Australia’s Group D can even be in Turin with the Davis Cup heavyweights up towards Croatia and Hungary whereas Group B incorporates Canada, Sweden and Kazakhstan.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Enhancing by Ken Ferris)



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