Albert Costa, director of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals, gives us his analysis of the Group Stage. And don’t forget! The winner of each group and the two best runners-up will make it through to the quarter-finals.
Group A: Spain and Russia will go all out
Defending champions Spain will have to beat Russia and Ecuador in the Group Stage and this promises to be a thriller. 2020 could well see a Spain-Russia final, but the new format gives us this exciting duel from the outset. Spain, with Rafa Nadal at the helm, has enormous strength and experience; and Russia, with its young trio of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov – all three in the top 15 – have the potential to go all the way. The battle promises to be an epic one in the fight for the top spot in the group. Ecuador, one of this year's debutants, will also be keen to give everything on court and won’t want to miss out on a historic performance in the competition.
Group B: Watch out for the Canadians
The 2019 finalists know they have a great future given the youth and talent of their players. And that’s why in 2020 they are once again looking to the final rounds where they can match anyone for the title. In addition to the power of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime, there is the versatility of Vasek Pospisil and the experience of Milos Raonic. In Group B there are no easy matches: Kazakhstan is back in the Finals for 2020 after defeating the Netherlands in the Qualifiers, and Sweden makes its debut in Madrid and has a long history in the Davis Cup and huge fan support. Sweden also has a new captain this year: Robin Soderling, former world top-10 player and a finalist at Roland-Garros.
Group C: Every game will be key
If anything characterizes this group, it is equality. France, Great Britain and the Czech Republic know that anything is possible between them. As always, France will have a great choice of players, including the likes of Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille and the doubles specialists Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Great Britain has the Murray brothers and Kyle Edmund, among others, and will be aiming to go one better after their semi-final last year. And pay attention to the Czech Republic: its record over the last decade shows that it is one of the most skilled teams in the Davis Cup and the experience of captain Jaroslav Navratil is added value. Nothing is certain – each game will be key in the fight to top the group.
Group D: Australia determined to make the quarter-finals
Although Croatia is the top seed in this group, in addition to being the 2018 Davis Cup champions, Australia is favourite on paper. Under the watchful eye of captain Lleyton Hewitt – former world number one – both Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur are capable of beating anyone, and the Australian doubles players are among the best in the world. Even so, Croatia, with Marin Cilic on the team, always leaves its mark and is capable of turning around the most challenging of situations. Hungary, with the excitement of its Finals debut and without any pressure, could well surprise both teams.
Group E: Italian threat
The United States starts as top seed in the group, but Italy, with no fewer than eight players in the world top 100 and two of them, Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini among the world's best, is more than a serious threat. Both teams were knocked out before the quarter-finals in 2019, and this year promises a tough battle between the two. Colombia completes the group. The best doubles pair of the moment, Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, are capable of making trouble for anyone; the competitiveness of the team was clear when they beat Argentina in the Qualifiers.
Group F: The dynamite combination of Serbia, Germany and Austria
This is the real killer group. Novak Djokovic's Serbia against Dominic Thiem's Austria, and Germany with an Alexander Zverev who has confirmed his desire to return to the German team. Who will prevail? The singles duels between any of them have the look of a Grand Slam final, with the added passion of the Davis Cup. The crowd will enjoy all of the singles matches and will even have the opportunity to see these great players in what could be the decisive doubles. Serbia, which last year ended up emotionally drained after losing to Russia in the quarter-finals, once again faces a demanding challenge and this time from the very first day of competition.