Defending champion Croatia to face Nadal’s Spain in revamped Davis Cup

MADRID (AP) – Defending champion Croatia will meet Rafael Nadal’s Spain in the first edition of the revamped Davis Cup Finals in November.

Russia was also drawn into the same three-nation group for the inaugural 18-team tournament that will be played in Madrid.

Thursday’s draw for the six groups also pitted the United States against Italy and Canada, while France – a finalist the last two years – will play against Japan and Serbia, which is likely to be without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, a critic of the tournament’s new format.

The revamped competition was developed in a partnership between the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Kosmos, an investment group founded by Spanish football player Gerard Pique.

Pique said Nadal has already committed to the new tournament, but it remains unclear which other top players will participate. Djokovic said the competition would conflict with the Association of Tennis Professionals Cup (ATP Cup), a newly created team competition. Roger Federer had also said he did not intend to play if Switzerland had qualified.

The ITF said players will compete for prize money that will rival what is offered in Grand Slams. The federation said it reached the 25-year deal with Kosmos to help increase revenue related to the Davis Cup, which used to be played at varied sites over four weekends throughout the year.

“It’s innovation and it’s also keeping tradition,” ITF President David Haggerty said. “Where we are going with the Davis Cup is really just going to elevate it and make it better.”

The six group-winners will advance to the knockout stage, along with the two-best second-place teams.

FROM LEFT: Colombia’s Davis Cup captain Pablo Gonzalez, Italy’s Davis Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti, Belgium’s Davis Cup captain Johan van Herck, Netherlands’ Davis Cup captain Paul Haarhuis, Japan’s Davis Cup captain Satoshi Iwabuchi, International Tennis Federation (ITF) President David Haggerty, Barcelona’s Spanish defender and Kosmos President Gerard Pique, Kazakhstan’s Davis Cup captain Dias Doskarayev, France’s Davis Cup captain Sebastien Grosjean and Russia’s Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev pose with the trophy after the draw for the 2019 Davis Cup tennis finals in Madrid on Thursday. – AFP