The second edition of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals will once again see Spain and Russia face off in the group stage, this time in Group A with Ecuador completing the line-up. Only one of the three teams will make it straight to the quarter-finals and reigning champions Spain will be put to the test against the impressive new generation of Russian players.
Russia has three players among the world’s top-16 and all are under 25 years old. This is the promising team that dreams of lifting the trophy for Russia for the first time since 2006. Marat Safin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Mikhail Youznhy have now been succeeded by Daniil Medvedev (5), Andrey Rublev (12) and Karen Khachanov (16) – three fearsome rivals that any player would want to avoid.
Spain, for the second year, had to watch the Russians drawn into their group. Sergi Bruguera's team will begin the defence of their title with a tough and exciting test.
Don't miss in Group A:
- Spain and Russia are, on paper, the big favourites in the fight to be group champions. Ecuador will have a tough challenge against both of them.
- Spain vs Russia gives the Russians a chance of revenge. They met in the group stage in 2019, with Spain winning 2-1 after taking the decisive doubles match. Who will win this time?
- Russia, who in 2019 qualified for the quarter-finals as one of the two best second-placed teams, nearly made the final with only two players: Rublev and Khachanov. If they manage to line up Medvedev too this time, will anyone be able to beat them? All three are particularly dangerous and spectacular on hard courts.
- In 2019, Rafael Nadal was the undisputed pillar of the Spanish team. Keep this fact in mind: he won no fewer than eight matches in six days. (Yes, eight, if you count both singles and doubles). His presence on court can intimidate any rival and is undoubtedly a delight for all Davis Cup fans.
- A duel between Nadal and Medvedev could mean a reversal of the 2018 US Open final. Nadal won that match 75 63 57 46 64.
- Don't forget the others: Roberto Bautista and Pablo Carreño are the players who, after Nadal, offer the greatest potential for the Spanish team, which can also call on the experience of Feliciano López and Marcel Granollers. Who will Sergi Bruguera choose in 2021?
- Ecuador will be living the dream. Join in with the excitement of the team led by Raul Viver, who are fighting for the title for the first time in their history and facing their biggest challenge on the tennis stage.
- ...And look at the Russian team's bench: Shamil Tarpischev has been captain since 1974 (you read that right!) The longest-serving captain in Davis Cup history pays special attention to player psychology when giving advice and making decisions.
And don’t forget! In the group phase every game counts. As well as direct qualification into the quarter-finals for the top-placed team in the group, the two best runners-up will also go through; and the number of sets and games won count towards this.
Enjoy all the excitement of the title fight from day one!