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The French are still the answer to Davis Cup riddle after first round

| 05.02.2014

The Davis Cup first round is over and with some high profile teams out of the competition there are three teams left with realistic chances of lifting the crown.

Spain, Serbia and Argentina all paid the price of resting their star players with comprehensive defeats to Germany (12/1), Switzerland (11/10) and Italy (20/1) respectively.

Conversely, Great Britain (14/1) benefited hugely from having Andy Murray back in the side as they recorded a surprise win over the most successful team in the history of the event, USA.

Switzerland were available to back at 9/1 only two weeks ago but as soon as news broke that Roger Federer would be joining Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic would be sitting out for Serbia they were quickly installed as favourites.

That drastic move from the bookmakers was vindicated as Switzerland brushed aside last year’s finalists while ante-post favourites Spain were overwhelmed by a Philipp Kohlschreiber-led Germany after being forced into battle without any of their top three singles players.

Czech Republic (5/1), champions of the last two years, edged past the Netherlands 3-2 with stalwarts Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek improving their impressive records.

France (2/1), who were advised to back in a preview of this event at news.ladbrokes routed Australia 5-0 and with the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils committed this year they are understandably popular to take glory for the first time since 2001.

World number 87 Andrey Gobulev won both of his singles rubbers to take outsiders Kazakhstan (66/1) into their second Davis Cup quarter-final with a 3-2 win over Belgium, however, the minnows now face Switzerland where it’s difficult to envisage anything but a heavy loss.

Kei Nishikori won all three of his matches to send Japan (33/1) through at the expense of Canada who badly missed the injured pair of Milos Raonic and Vasek Popsipil, however, again a last-eight meeting with the Czech Republic looks set to spell the end for the Asian team.

Great Britain now face an Italian side who look set to choose clay as their surface, which will ensure the continued participation of Andy Murray as the world number six will relish the opportunity to have more preparation ahead of the French Open.

If Federer continues to play Switcerland deserve to be favourites but as has been insisted in previous articles here, so much can change so quickly in the competition and the advice is to remain with France.

If any of the other teams lose one of their star men then their chances are also lost, whereas France can react to injuries and withdrawals without seriously damaging their strength in both the singles and doubles.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster