Davis Cup betting preview: Nick Kyrgios the pick to lead Aussies to glory

Critics of the recent Australian Open bemoaned a distinct lack of drama in the men’s event as the irascible Roger Federer – the heavily tipped pre-tournament favourite – waltzed to a 20th Grand Slam title.

As good as that Federer win was at the ripe old age of 36, there was a sense of inevitability about his path to glory once Rafael Nadal had been forced to retire injured in that titanic quarter-final with Marin Cilic.

The 2018 Davis Cup should be far less predictable however, if recent results are anything to go by. Take last year for instance, when Argentina became just the third team in history to be relegated from the World Group a year after winning the Davis Cup title as they slipped to a stunning 3-2 defeat in Kazakhstan.

France are defending champions and hot favourites with the bookies. They have won the Davis Cup 10 times, and last year edged out Belgium in a thriller in Lille.

The French squad is always rammed with quality but there is no question they’ve underachieved given their strength in depth in recent years. Last year’s win was their first for 16 years and as a result I would be reluctant to be piling in at a current top price of 100/30.

It was amusing to see how the majority of the media reported Kyle Edmund’s huge recent showing at the Australian Open. To read some reports you would think he had just wandered in off the street and somehow stumbled into the semi-finals ‘Happy Gilmore’ style.

The truth is this is a man who has won the Davis Cup and also reached the fourth round of the US Open. Edmund is a class act with a monster forehand, but one wonders how much his super showing Down Under has taken out of him? He is the main man for Great Britain as they face Spain on the clay of Marbella this weekend.

The Spanish side is certainly not as strong as it once was, but with question marks surrounding Edmund’s fitness and no Andy Murray for GB, this tie looks a very tall order and they look plenty short in the outrights at 14/1.

Not so Australia. The Aussies have reached the semi-finals in two of the last three years and in Nick Kyrgios have a maverick talent who is seemingly committed to the Davis Cup cause.

Kyrgios, one of the most confusing athletes in the world and a man as capable of outrageous on-court meltdowns as he is tournaments of absolute brilliance, did OK in the Australian Open and should be well rested ahead of their World Group clash with Germany.

He seems, dare we say it, a more mature athlete this year and has already claimed an ATP title. The singles rubber between Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev should be ridiculously tasty, but we fancy Australia to come through that World Group tie and they look a decent punt at 10/1 to win the thing.

Of the outsiders Belgium could be worth tickling. They’ve twice been Davis Cup bridesmaids in recent years, losing the 2015 final to Great Britain while going agonizingly close last year against the French. David Goffin is the key name here, and he was playing some unreal tennis in the latter half of 2017.

He has firmly established himself as a top 10 player on the ATP and has a 21-3 career record in Davis Cup singles rubbers. Ruben Bemelmans, Julien Cagnina and Joris De Loore will support Goffin as best they can, but their destiny will be shaped by the form of the diminutive sharp-shooter from Rocourt.

Belgium face Hungary first up, and are in the opposite side of the draw to powerhouses France, Spain and Germany. At 16/1 they merit a little each-way interest having made two of the last three finals.

Bilko’s Banker: Australia to win the Davis Cup at 10/1 (888 Sport/Paddy Power)
Best of the Rest: Belgium to win the Davis Cup at 16/1 (bet365) 

By Deggsy Bilton