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Wawrinka, Federer, Berdych, Tsonga Set For Davis Cup Duty

Hewitt, Tsonga© Getty ImagesLleyton Hewitt and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will face off for the fourth time.

A number of the ATP World Tour’s top stars will be competing in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first-round ties this weekend. Headlining will be two Top 10 stars for Switzerland: Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer.   

Federer, announced as an addition to the Swiss team Wednesday, will open Switzerland’s tie in Novi Sad, Serbia, against Ilija Bozoljac. Newly crowned Australian Open champion Wawrinka will then make his debut as his country’s No. 1 player against Dusan Lajovic.

“I always kept a tiny door open and I am glad to be here,” Federer said during Thursday’s draw ceremony. “Playing here is something I was excited about when I left Australia. I spoke to team captain Severin Luthi and Stan, we talked about it and the decision was made pretty quickly.”

Despite his country’s underdog status, Serbian team captain Bogdan Obradovic drew positives from facing the formidable Swiss contingent. “It is very good for the Davis Cup when the best players decide to play in the first round and it is also a unique opportunity for tennis fans in Serbia to watch Federer in action,” he said.

Serbia reached the final last year with the support of Novak Djokovic, who won all seven of his singles rubbers, and also won the Davis Cup title in 2010. Doubles stalwart Nenad Zimonjic is the only member from the winning squad to be competing this weekend in Novi Sad.

France also features a pair of Top 10 players, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in its first-round tie against an Australian squad led by Lleyton Hewitt. Australia leads the head-to-head between the two nations, 10-4, but France won its most recent clash in the 2001 final held in Melbourne. Two years earlier in Nice, Australia had similarly spoilt France from a victory celebration on home soil by prevailing in the final.

Gael Monfils and Julien Benneteau complete the French team, captained by Arnaud Clement. Meanwhile, the Australian team - captained by Patrick Rafter - includes two teenagers, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, and 28-year-old Chris Guccione. Kyrgios, 18, and Kokkinakis, 17, showed promise during the Australian Open as both reached the second round.

Kyrgios will make his Davis Cup debut when he plays World No. 9 Gasquet in the opening tie. Hewitt will play World No. 10 Tsonga in the reverse rubber, as he looks for his first win in his fourth meeting against the Frenchman.

Two-time reigning champion Czech Republic, once again led by Tomas Berdych, begins its 2014 defence against the Netherlands in Ostrava. The Czech Republic is playing its 200th World Group tie, and is looking to win its 10th straight tie on home soil.

Radek Stepanek, who clinched the Czech Republic’s title last year, will play Robin Haase in the first match Friday. Berdych, a semi-finalist last week in Melbourne, will play Igor Sijsling in their first career meeting.  

“It’s going to be another match of playing our first time,” said the World No. 7. “I did it a couple of times, especially in Melbourne that I played three guys that I never played, so it’s going to be a similar approach to those matches. Try to be focused especially on myself and try to build up on my strengths.”

In San Diego, Andy Murray will look to help Great Britain snap its four-tie losing streak against the U.S. as he plays both singles and doubles. The two nations met in the first-ever Davis Cup tie, in 1900 in Boston, and will be facing off for the 19th time. Britain trails the head-to-head 7-11 and last defeated the U.S. in 1935.

The tie will be held on clay at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, and will feature Sam Querrey, Donald Young and the Bryan brothers on the home bench. Young stepped in as a late replacement for John Isner, and will face Murray in the opening rubber.

“I think [the surface] is more in favour of us, we’re all very comfortable on clay,” said Querrey. “We think it gives ourselves a great chance.”

In other World Group ties, Japan hosts Canada, which has lost its No. 1 Milos Raonic with an ankle injury, in Tokyo, Germany confronts Spain in Frankfurt, Argentina plays on home soil in Mar del Plata against Italy and Kazakhstan hosts Belgium in Astana.

Draws and Tie Information at Official Website

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