Australia have been dealt a tough assignment in next year’s Davis Cup, drawing an away trip to Czech Republic in their return to the World Group.
The March tie will see Pat Rafter’s side come up against one of Europe’s elite for the second straight year, with the Czechs having claimed the Cup in 2012 and 2013 and reached this year’s semi-finals.
The Aussies bowed out to France in the first round of this year’s edition, as they ended a seven-year hiatus from the top tier by being humbled 5-0 in Paris.
Australia handed the same scoreline to Uzbekistan earlier this month to ensure they’d once again be among the top nations, as the 28-time champions chase their first title since 2003.
The third-seeded Czechs will be lead by world No.7 Tomas Berdych, with their team also boasting veteran Radek Stepanek, big serving Lukas Rosol and youngster Jiri Vesely.
The tough draw, which took place in Dubai last Thursday, came despite Australia’s strong chance of playing at home in their first round tie.
Pat Rafter’s side would have been gifted hosting rights against five of the potential eight match-ups in the draw. Instead they will will travel to Europe for their first round in World Group for the fourth straight time, playing the Czech at a yet to be named venue from 6-8 March next year.
This may prove to be one of the last opportunities for veteran Lleyton Hewitt to again lift the Davis Cup silverware. Australia’s most prolific singles winner in the event will be 34 in February next year and has earmarked retirement plans ahead of his 17th tournament appearance for his country.
Of course the Aussies will not be without hope, with the form of Hewitt and rising star Nick Kyrgios in the recent tie in Perth proof they’ll be no easy-beats this time around.
Pat Rafter is also set to welcome back Bernard Tomic and Marinko Matosevic from injury to accompany Chris Guccione and Sam Groth, giving Australia’s Davis Cup captain some much needed depth.
As to be expected Thursday’s draw threw up some other huge match-ups with Great Britain to host USA, Serbia to play Croatia, Germany to come up against France and Argentina to entertain Brazil.
The victor from Australia’s tie will play the winner of the Kazakhstan v Italy pairing in the next round.
You can be sure we’ll have all the Davis Cup action on the big screen at SSC but there’s plenty of tennis to be played between now and then.
2015 World Group Draw
Germany v France
Great Britain v USA
Czech Republic v Australia
Kazakhstan v Italy
Argentina v Brazil
Serbia v Croatia
Canada v Japan
Belgium v Switzerland