At the UK head office for BNP Paribas the draw for the 2017 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas was held and it resulted in a very evenly spread out World Group, the prestigious section of the competition that every nation of this amazing competition would dearly want to be part of.
This year, 2016, was the 117th anniversary of the Davis Cup and 135 nations took part, yet again making it the world’s largest annual team competition in sport. This is the World Cup of Tennis – who is going to argue … and the fact that BNP Paribas has signed on for another five years only emphasises how amazing an event it is.
The draws for all the zonal competitions were also held – Asia/Oceania, Americas and Europe/Africa Groups 1 and 2 but it was the World Group draw that captured the most attention. It was like waiting for the Best Picture Oscar to be named as the last category of the ceremony.
Dramatic video footage was played of Davis Cup highlights ending with last year’s final when Great Britain scored a historic victory after 79 years, defeating Belgium in Ghent. It provided another round of goose bump moments and with yours truly, yes me, being the emcee for the draw, it proved to be even more memorable.
Four days before in Glasgow, Great Britain has lost a dramatic and emotional semi-final to Argentina in a match that had gone down to the very last rubber. The Argentine captain Daniel Orsanic, a lovely man, gambled and took Juan Martin Del Potro out of that deciding singles and replaced him with Leonardo Mayer.
At the same time British captain Leon Smith, a truly superb captain, replaced Kyle Edmund with Dan Evans. For a while the chess move looked like it was working for Britain but then it all changed and Mayer lifted when he had to to send Argentina into the final for the fifth time.
Over in Croatia the home side has been inspired by amazing tennis from Marin Cilic and his direction guided his nation to an upset over France to reach the final of the second time, having won it in 2005. Two passionate Davis Cup nations were into the final and in November in Croatia it will be a special atmosphere.
But on this day at BNP Paribas’s head office those nations were more than a bit curious to see who they would play in the first round in 2017, and all was revealed in a very evenly spread out draw. With Argentina seeded at the top and Croatia on the last line, both scored home ties with Argentina to play Italy and Croatia to face Spain.
Gradually the draw unfolded. Britain the most recent champion nation would be travelling to Canada and France would make its way to Japan in what could turn into the tie of the first round. Switzerland scraped into the World Group via the play-off round but got a seeding and will be away to the USA.
The winner of that tie would be facing Australia or the Czechs – it’s the second time in three years those nations square off. Australia would be hosting and it could not have worked out better for them because the first round is the weekend immediately after the Australian Open.
The winner of Argentina-Italy would face hosts Germany or Belgium while Serbia will be home to Russia.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas 2017 has the pointers to another successful season.