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United States, Australia, Spain, Argentina among Davis Cup champions to qualify for finals

Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia (L) celebrates with team captain Lleyton Hewitt after winning his singles match against Zsombor Piros of Hungary that clinched Australia’s Davis Cup Qualifying victory. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

By Ricky Dimon

Australia, Spain, Argentina, and the United States were among the past Davis Cup champions who qualified for this year’s finals on Thursday.

Australia did so in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Hungary in front of the home crowd in Sydney. Spain, Argentina, and the United States had no trouble with Romania, the Czech Republic, and Colombia, respectively.

Team USA’s success was especially sweet, as it gained a measure of revenge for last year’s loss to Colombia during round-robin action in Madrid.

“(It’s the) first step of the year,” American captain Mardy Fish commented. “Obviously (it’s a) great result. We clearly can lose to them–and did last time we played them. They’re very tricky…. Much respect to them and their team (and) captain.

“But as far as we go, this was the first step of the process of trying to win this thing this year. I think we’ve got a great opportunity with the guys that we have and the depth that we have. I’ll head over to Indian Wells and watch some of the guys that weren’t on the team–Frances (Tiafoe), Reilly (Opelka), (and) a few others. This is a process. We’ve got about eight guys or so that are part of it. The five guys that were here, a few others that weren’t.”

United States Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish. EPA-EFE/FERNANDO VILLAR

The Davis Cup Finals will feature 16 teams, just as they did in 2019 and 2021 (the 2020 event was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic). This year’s format, however, is a little bit different. The group stage will feature four pods of four countries and will be played in four different cities in September–instead of one city in November. Two teams from each group will then advance to the quarterfinals in Madrid in November.

Croatia, the 2021 runner-up, automatically qualified. Defending champion Russia is currently banned from ITF team competition because of the war with Ukraine. Unless something changes between now and September, the Russians will be replaced by a wild card to be named.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden, and South Korea also qualified earlier this week. Great Britain and Serbia have wild cards into the finals.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.