Davis Cup Tennis 2018: Round 1 Dates, Schedule, Live Stream and Predictions

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2018

French captain Yannick Noah, center, holds the cup after France won the Davis Cup at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille, northern France, Sunday, Nov.26, 2017. France won the Davis Cup for the first time in 16 years after beating Belgium 3-2. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

The first round of the 2018 Davis Cup World Group stage commences on Friday, as France attempt to defend the title they won last year.

A host of major names from the men's game will be featuring for their countries, including Croatia's Marin Cilic, Germany's Alexander Zverev and Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

France battle the Netherlands in their first-round encounter, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet play for the champions.

The Davis Cup provided the first-round ties:

Matches will be played between Feb 2 and 4.

Live streaming is available via the Tennis Channel (U.S.) and BBC iPlayer (UK).

Further details about the tournament and schedule can be found at the Davis Cup's official website.

                

Predictions

Spain vs. Great Britain

Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta reacts against Croatia's Marin Cilic during their men's singles fourth round match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITO
PETER PARKS/Getty Images

Despite becoming champions in 2015, Great Britain have an uphill task when they face the class act of Spain.

Rafael Nadal will not be present for his nation, but the balance of power lies with the hosts as Andy Murray continues his quest back to full fitness.

Kyle Edmund will be the star attraction for the No. 3 competition seeds, but Team GB do not have the strength in depth they desire.

Jamie Murray, Dominic Inglot, Cameron Norrie and Liam Broady complete the five-man squad for the tie, but the Spanish will believe they will prevail in Marbella on home soil.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - AUGUST 25:  Kyle Edmunds of Great Britain returns a shot to Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina during their semifinals match in the Winston-Salem Open at Wake Forest University on August 25, 2017 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Norrie remains relatively unknown on the world stage, but his form has dictated a place in the squad. The 22-year-old has battled his way up the rankings, and he is a rising talent for the British team.

However, Spain ooze with genuine quality, producing five players who all feature inside the top 40 in the world.

Busta is joined by Roberto Bautista Agut and Albert Ramos Vinolas, with the three players producing top-class consistency over the past 12 months.

David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez complete the world-class lineup for the Spanish to feature on clay.

Prediction: Spain win 3-1.

                  

France vs. Netherlands

Michel Spingler/Associated Press

The Olympic Hall in Albertville will see hosts France in a first-round match against the Dutch, with the home side and reigning holders assembling a wonderful team.

France clearly mean business as they hope for safe progress, with Tsonga, Pouille and Gasquet present for the hard-court showdown.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut make up the numbers for France, and it should be a simple day at the office on the opening Friday.

The Dutch team will not have to travel across the continent, but they lack the firepower needed to produce one of the great shocks in Davis Cup history.

The visitors have picked a small four-man team, with Robin Haase, Tallon Griekspoor, Thiemo De Bakker and Jean-Julien Rojer selected for the expected defeat.

French tennis has real depth at present, and they should easily claim their place in the quarter-finals in April.

Prediction: France win 3-0.

                           

All statistics and info via the competition's official website.

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