The first ball of the 2016 Davis Cup final has yet to be hit and the draw for the 2017 Davis Cup has been announced. For the sixth straight year, Canada is in the World Group - the prestigious top 16 tennis nations in the world, thanks in part to luck and the strength of the team (when everyone is healthy). Indeed, those two elements are the key to victory for any Davis Cup nation. If a country has their A team in place, is healthy and is given an opponent with a B team on their least favourite surface, that country has it made.
Case in point: Belgium in 2015. Yes, I said Belgium, that powerhouse of tennis. It made its way to the final of the Davis Cup in 2015 winning against teams it had no business winning against. With a healthy A Team against depleted opponents, they sashayed their way to the final. But that's the thing with Davis Cup: so many variables are in play during the year that surprise finalists like Belgium are complete possibilities. When countries lose their Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic, they are left in a precarious situation against opponents who are licking their chops at the potential for victory - especially if it is on a surface that favours them instead of their opponents.
This uncertainty is one of the reasons why the Davis Cup needs to make changes to its format and schedule. I'll go into all of that in a separate blog post, but suffice to say that healthy top players who play for their country in Davis Cup make for a better Davis Cup, and the possibility of a country like Belgium winning the whole thing would be less likely and less controversial. I'm not knocking Belgium (it seems that way, but I'm not), but you can't be a serious Davis Cup contender with just a David Goffin, just like Canada can't be with just a Milos Raonic. I think if these countries had multiple singles players ranked much higher than they are, the optics of them winning the Davis Cup would be much more presentable.
Davis Cup World Group 2017 Picks
Argentina v Italy: Winner - Argentina (only if Del Potro plays. If he doesn't show, it's a toss up. It will be a heroic effort for Italy to win away).
Germany v Belgium: Winner - Belgium (Belgium gets another easy draw. I don't see them losing this with Goffin. If he doesn't show, it's a toss up).
Australia v Czech Republic: Winner - Australia (As irritating and unfocused as Nick K. and Bernard T. are, they should have no problem winning this at home - if they are named to the team).
USA v Switzerland: Winner - Switzerland (only if Wawrinka plays. If both he and Federer skip this, it'll be over 3-0 quickly).
Japan v France: Winner - France (France is so deep, they could send their C team and still win. Again, you can't front Nishikori as the whole team and win).
Canada v Great Britain: Winner - Great Britain (only if Andy Murray shows up. If he doesn't and Canada sends their A team, it will be very close. The key for victory for GB is his brother Jaime Murray. He's a top doubles player and that's a key point).
Serbia v. Russia: Winner - Serbia (only if Djokovic shows up. If he doesn't I think Russia will be motivated enough to get through).
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