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Italy won the tournament last year at the Martín Carpena arena. Reuters
Spain must navigate 'group of death' to reach Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga
Tennis

Spain must navigate 'group of death' to reach Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga

David Ferrer's team will face Australia, Czech Republic and France in the Group Stage to be played in Valencia from 15 to 20 September

Pedro Luis Alonso

Malaga

Wednesday, 20 March 2024, 06:17

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The draw for the Group Stage of the 2024 Davis Cup Finals on Tuesday was not kind to Spain, who will have to play Australia, the Czech Republic and France in Group B in Valencia from 15 to 20 September.

Elsewhere, Group A will be played in Bologna, with reigning champions Italy facing the Netherlands, Belgium and Brazil.

Meanwhile, Argentina will travel to Manchester (the AO Arena) and will be part of Group D alongside Great Britain, Finland and Canada.

The weakest group, on paper, seems to be Group C in which Chile, Germany, the United States and Slovakia will face off in Zhuhai, China.

"The Valencia group seems to be the strongest," said Davis Cup Finals tournament director Feliciano López, in the role for the second consecutive year. "It's not very good news for Spain, but [unlike last year] I think this time they have a good chance of making it to Malaga."

The Final 8 of the tournament will take place at the Martín Carpena arena in the city for the third year on the bounce, this time from 19 to 24 November. Only the top two teams from each round-robin-format group will progress.

"I think it's the group of death, the toughest group that could be," said Spain captain David Ferrer. "But to win the Davis Cup, you have to play against the best and try to qualify. We have a new opportunity and hope to be in the Final 8."

Strong opponents

In Spain's group, the standout opponent is Australia, who finished as tournament runners-up in 2022 and 2023. Led by Alex de Miñaur, currently at the peak of his career (10th), alongside Jordan Thompson (33rd) and Alexei Popyrin, they also boast formidable doubles players in Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden.

It also won't be easy for Spain to get past the Czech Republic who, in fact, thwarted their passage to the Final 8 just a year ago, winning all three encounters, with Jiri Lehecka (28th) and Tomas Machac (56th) leading the charge, now joined by emerging talent Jakub Mensik, already in the top 100 at just 18 years of age.

Meanwhile, France, who are in the midst of a generational transition and didn't make the finals in the last two editions, now seem to be on an upward trajectory with the current success of Ugo Humbert (14th), the splendid form of Adrian Mannarino (20th), the emergence of Arthur Fils (36th), and the resurgence of Gael Monfils (45th), complemented by a strong roster of doubles players.

Further challenges

The opposition is not the only challenge facing Ferrer's side, though. The Davis Cup Group Stage dates come right after the US Open which may be problematic if world number two Carlos Alcaraz reaches the final and has to overcome jet lag and limited recovery time.

Additionally, Spanish tennis is currently experiencing one of its leanest periods in years, with only six players in the top 100, including Malaga's Alejandro Davidovich (29th). Following him are Roberto Carballés (64th), Jaume Munar (72nd), Pedro Martínez (90th) and Roberto Bautista (96th), with Marcel Granollers appearing as a fixture in the doubles.

"It's very difficult to say which nations will qualify. I just hope for another great week of tennis, full of passion and excitement, and I look forward to welcoming people from different nations around the world competing in Malaga. I think that's what the Davis Cup is all about," added López.

The ITF announced on Tuesday that the schedule and ticket information for each group stage will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

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