MADRID // Roger Federer's Switzerland team will travel to face the United States in the first round of the 2009 Davis Cup World Group, after the draw was announced in Madrid yesterday. Switzerland will face the 2007 winners on March 6-8 in a tie that could feature the world's No 1 ranked doubles pair, and the Olympic gold medal winning pair.
In recent years Federer has opted out of playing in the first-round due to scheduling conflicts, but with the tie taking place just before the start of the American hardcourt season, the five-times US Open champion could at long last commit himself to his country's cause. In another fascinating tie, the 2008 finalists Spain will host Serbia, which could see world No 1 Rafael Nadal facing No 3 Novak Djokovic.
Great Britain will play Ukraine at home in their opening match of the 2009 Davis Cup. John Lloyd's team are back in the Euro-Africa Zone I - effectively the second division of the competition - after the weekend's 3-2 defeat to Austria saw them relegated from the elite World Group. They received a first-round bye in the draw and were then paired with Ukraine, a side they beat 3-2 away in 2006, in the second round.
Andy Murray, however, has yet to confirm whether he will play in next year's competition and Lloyd will be seeking to secure his services as soon as possible. Murray, the world No 4, was critical of his teammates - brother Jamie, Alex Bogdanovic and Ross Hutchins - after last weekend's defeat to the Austrians and has stressed he cannot be expected to win ties for GB single-handedly. He had controversially pulled out of a Davis Cup tie earlier this year, citing change of surface as his reason for doing so.
If Great Britain beat Ukraine they will progress to a World Group promotion play-off in September. The 110th edition of the Davis Cup has 125 countries entered for next year. In new developments, organisers said that players will collect ATP ranking points for matches played in the Davis Cup next year, and that dates for the rounds had been modified to better fit in with the ATP calendar. The quarter- final ties will be played on July 10-12, the semi-finals on Sept 18-20 and the final on Dec 4-6.
The other 2008 finalists Argentina, were drawn at home to Netherlands, while the 2006 winners Russia, who have been in the semi-finals for the last four years in a row, visit Romania. The 2005 winners Croatia have home advantage to another newly-promoted team Chile. France travel to face Czech Republic, Sweden host Israel and Germany are at home against Austria. * Agencies