Is Davis Cup Rankings a Fair Reflection of a Nation's Depth on Men's Tour?
The Davis Cup rankings were released after the opening weekend of the 2012 Davis Cup.
Is the rankings a fair reflection of the strength of its players on the ATP tour? How does one reflect on the two sets of rankings?
It is fairly straight-forward to assume that the number of players in the Top 50 is proportional to the country's performances in the Davis Cup. The higher the number of players, the better a team plays (given that it has a larger number of players to dip into).
A player might not opt to play the Davis Cup because of their individual schedules. The restriction on the number of players who can play the fixtures is also a factor on the comparison.
Let us look at the Top Eight teams ranked by the ATP to check the above assumptions.
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As of this week, the Spanish armada contains 13 players in the Top 100 on the ATP tour.
Eight of these are ranked in the Top 50 (six in Top 25). There is no doubt why the Spanish team comes out on top—Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer stay within the Top Five most of the year.
Nadal and Ferrer make themselves available for the national duty whenever possible. Even without them, the Spaniards extended their winning run at home to 22 ties against Kazakhstan.
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Serbia won the Davis Cup for the first time in 2010, thanks to the performances of the ATP No.1 as well as Janko Tipsarevic.
The Serbs overcame Sweden, 4-1, this year to move to the next round. Even though there are only three players in the Top 100 of the Men's Tour, Serbia benefits from having two players in the Top 10.
The reserve player, Viktor Troicki, enjoys a respectable position of 22 on the ATP circuit—again, a good example of depth helping the nation do well in the team events.
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Six players in the Top 100 make Argentina a complete package at the Davis Cup.
Martin del Potro and David Nalbandian are the well-known stars in the Argentinian team who form a strong opposition for any team.
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Ten Top-100 players and four falling inside the Top 25 means that the French have a pleasant headache to grapple with (on selection issues).
Tsonga, Simon, Monfils and Gasquet are the French quartet who have been consistently placed in the higher rungs—a reflection of the team's No.4 position.
Republicans from Czech
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Even though the Czech have only three players in the Top 100, they have managed to retain the No.5 position in Davis Cup.
With the help of No.7 Tomas Berdych and No. 28 Radek Stepanek, the Czech have been consistent.
Stepanek has the added advantage of being a top doubles player—a factor that is a big plus in Davis Cup ties.
Might of the Croatians
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Croatia has done well in Davis Cup ties though the players have been ranked modestly in the ATP tour.
Marin Cilic, Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Ljubicic have been the flag-bearers of the country who have punched above their weight in the Davis Cup competitions (rank of No. 6)
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With eight players in the Top 100, Team USA will depend on the star power of Andy Roddick to guide the younger generation.
Mardy Fish and John Isner have overtaken Roddick in the ATP rankings, becoming the first-choice players for the Davis Cup tie.
Even though the American dominance at Grand Slams has diminished, the Davis Cup team remains a solid power to reckon with.