Davis Cup organizers hoping for magic start in Madrid

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MADRID
Eighteen nations will gather in Madrid’s La Caja Magica on today as the men’s tennis season culminates with a revamped Davis Cup format dreamt up by a man who earns his living playing soccer for Barcelona.
The week-long soccer World Cup-style Davis Cup Finals will be the biggest shake-up the 119-year-old team event has ever had and is being bankrolled by Barca defender Gerard Pique’s investment firm Kosmos to the tune of $3 billion over 25 years.
As for any large sporting event the key ingredient will be the quality of the entertainment and the atmosphere.
Nineteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will lead the Spanish team, while Novak Djokovic will play for Serbia, Andy Murray for Britain and Nick Kyrgios will surely spice things up as he turns out for Davis Cup heavyweights Australia.
The format will involve the 18 nations, which include two wildcards, split into six groups of three with the winners and best two runners-up moving on to the knockout phase.
Group ties will involve two singles and a doubles with rubbers played over best of three sets tiebreak sets. The final will be contested next Sunday.
As well as the main arena at La Caja Majica (The Magic Box), matches will also be played on two smaller courts to enable the jam-packed schedule to be completed in a week.
Croatia will arrive as defending champions having won the last traditional final last year against France in Lille and will face a tough task in Group B where they take on Spain and Russia without top player Marin Cilic.

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