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Davis Cup Finals Preview: Canada could be team to beat

Eight remain as the 2022 Davis Cup reaches its conclusion and there is a strong representation with eight of the world's top 20 tennis stars in action.

Defending champions the Russian Federation, France, Serbia and Great Britain are some notable omissions from the quarter-final line-up, which gets underway in Malaga on Monday.

But there are some talented teams with their eyes fixed firmly on top prize and it is Canada, Croatia, Spain, USA and Italy who appear to hold the strongest credentials.

Canada and Croatia are vying for favouritism at 3/1, with Spain and USA 4/1 and Italy a 9/2 chance.

The other three nations involved are Australia, who are 12/1, and 20/1 shots Germany and the Netherlands.

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The eight nations will play four quarter-final matches from Tuesday to Thursday before semi-final matches on Friday and Saturday and Sunday's final.

As was the case in the previous round, each tie features two singles rubbers before a concluding doubles contest if the score is level at 1-1.

What: Davis Cup 2022 Finals

Where: Jose Maria Martin Carpena Arena, Malaga, Spain

When: 15:00, Monday 22nd November, 2022

How to watch: BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website

Odds Canada 3/1, Croatia 3/1, Spain 4/1, USA 4/1, Italy 9/2, Australia 12/1, Germany 20/1, Netherlands 20/1

Top half stacked with quality

The top-half of the Davis Cup draw looks like a minefield for punters with Canada up against Germany and Italy locking horns with the USA.

With in-form world number six Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov representing the Canadians, they ought to have the measure of quarter-final opponents Germany, who are weakened without the injured Alexander Zverev.

However, Italy and USA is a far more competitive last-eight duel and the winner of that contest would perhaps deserve to be favourites to see off Canada.

Italian tennis is in a healthy place at present but some damage may have been done to their winning prospects following the late withdrawal of Matteo Berrettini.

With star man Jannik Sinner also ruled out through injury, captain Filippo Volandri will be relying on Lorenzo Sonego, Lorenzo Musetti and Fabio Fognini to get the job done.

That gives the Americans a significant edge and, perhaps, makes them the bet from this section of the draw at 4/1.

With US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe, recent ATP Finals representative Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Jack Sock, who has been selected for his doubles prowess, involved, they look to have all bases covered.

The Americans will also be far happier on this faster surface than their depleted Italian counterparts and are then taken to outclass Canada in the semi-final.

Croatia can tee-up successive finals

Croatia were beaten in the final of the Davis Cup by the Russian Federation last year but they have every chance of going one better this time around.

The draw looks a delight for the Croatians, who were crowned champions in 2018 and are armed with two top-class operators in the experienced Marin Cilic and Borna Coric.

Those two can help them see off hosts Spain, who are without both Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz, and, therefore, relying on the services of Pablo Carreno Busta and Robert Bautista Agut.

Cilic and Coric should have the edge in those singles contests despite the Spaniards being armed with home advantage. Winning that quarter-final clash would reward them with either Australia or the Netherlands, who look two of the poorest teams left in the competition.

Australia are 28-time winners of the event and it is a competition they would love to do well in again, but the absence of Nick Krygios leaves a huge void to fill.

World number 24 Alex de Minaur will be the flag bearer and Thanasi Kokkinakis is a decent back-up, which should be enough firepower to see off the Netherlands.

The Dutch team will be heavily reliant on Botic van de Zandschulp for their spark but De Minaur should have his measure, which may have some people interested in the 11/1 available for the Aussies.

But if Croatia find their way past Spain, they would be strong favourites in their semi-final showdown and they could have a good chance of going all the way to lift the trophy at 3/1.

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