The Davis Cup

The Spanish teams celectrate beating Argentina (Image: AP)

The Davis Cup returns this weekend for several long months of top men’s tennis action. Switzerland and Roger Federer are the reigning team champs, but who are the best bets for 2015’s campaign?

Will it be another title for the Swiss, will Novak Djokovic’s Serbia come good or can Andy Murray inspire a win for Britain’s men?

Very Brief History of Davis Cup

The Davis Cup started in 1900 with just two countries competing, America and Great Britain. Now, the premier men’s tennis competition boasts 130 nations who battle it out over a knockout format in a series of globetrotting matches.

The nations are split into groups, with promotion and relegation from the various groups earned (or lost) every year. The World Group currently contains 16 countries made up of the best teams in the world.

World Group in 2015

Switzerland, Germany, France, Great Britain, USA, Czech Republic, Australia, Kazakhstan, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Serbia, Croatia, Canada, Japan, Belgium.

So, who are our top picks to take the trophy and who will be hitting all the aces in the Round 1 matches this weekend?

Outright Bets

Switzerland were spurred on by a Davis Cup-chasing Roger Federer last year, winning the final against France 3-1. They were helped by excellent singles results from Stan Wawrinka, but the world No.7 is out of the Davis Cup team, as is Federer. The 66/1 odds on the Swiss to repeat their 2014 triumph seem fair.

The smart cash is on a Novak Djokovic-led Serbia to take down the title this time out. Although they’re 13/4 (bwin) favourites in the betting, the power of the world’s no.1 player is enough to smash anything the world can offer. Serbia also has the easier half of the draw, and avoid the likes of the Czech Republic, France and GB until the final.

France are good bets at 7/2 (SportingBet) to go one better than their runner-up spot last year, especially as their team contains a solid line-up that includes Gael Monfils, Nicolas Mahut and Gilles Simon.

And if you’re looking for a decent each-way bet, why not a 33/1 each-way punt on Great Britain (Coral) to bag their first Davis Cup since the 1930s?

Round 1 Bets

Argentina and Brazil both had to win through fairly routine play-offs in order to reach the first round.

Argentina has the form, losing out to Italy in last year’s first round, while Brazil haven’t made it this far since 2013. With home advantage, plus an all-new Brazilian line-up, our tip is for Argentina to notch up a first win and clear the way for a quarter-final meet-up against either Serbia or Croatia.

Argentina v Brazil (Brazil to win)

Meanwhile, the Aussies, who last won the Davis Cup in 2003, have received a blow after teen wonderkid, Nick Kyrgios, pulled out of their Round 1 match with an injury. It’s now left to 2003 alumnus, Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Samuel Groth to carry the flag for the Aussies against the strong Czechs. It won’t be strong enough.

Czech Republic v Australia (Czech Rep. to win)

The Davis Cup began in 1900 when it was competed between the USA and Great Britain and it’s those two teams who compete in the pick of the first round ties at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. It will be the 20th time the two countries will have met in a Davis Cup clash, and Andy Murray is expecting a “tough clash”.

Britain has a good recent record against the Americans, beating Jim Courier’s men 3-1 last year on US soil in Round 1. The Brits went on to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in 16 years. And we think Andy Murray’s boys will have too much for the Yanks this time out, especially at home and on a hard court – a surface Murray has never lost a Davis Cup leg on.

US hopes, meanwhile, will rest on the big-hitting John Isner and the prowess of #1-ranked doubles pair, Bob and Mike Bryan. Although the Americans are seeded, GB could be the best value bet this weekend.

Great Britain v USA (GB win)

How the Davis Cup Works

The Davis Cup countries are split into five competing groups: Groups I-IV plus a leading World Group. Promotion and relegation to the World Group is decided each year and the World Group countries play off over several months to decide the champions.

After the first round this weekend, the quarter-finals will be held in July, with semi-finals following in September. The final is due to be played the weekend on November 27-29 later this year.

Each tie is played over five matches which includes four round-robin singles and a doubles match.

Switzerland are reigning champions, having defeated France in the 102nd Davis Cup in Lille last year. Australia has won the Davis Cup 28 times since the knock-out competition’s inception in 1900. They last won the Cup in 2003, when a team headed by Lleyton Hewitt defeated Spain 301 in Melbourne.