Paris: Argentina and Britain have been awarded wild cards into the 2019 Davis Cup, the first to be played under a radically changed format, organisers announced Wednesday.
Under a format proposed by the Kosmos group, and adopted by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in August, the competition will bring together 18 nations in one place for a week at the end of the tennis season.
The four 2018 semi-finalists — France, Croatia, Spain and the United States — qualify directly. Twelve more places will be decided in qualifiers that take place on 1 and 2 February, 2019.
That left two spots for wildcards selected by the organisers and they have chosen Argentina and Britain.
The choice was made by a committee of ITF president David Haggerty, one of his vice-presidents Rene Stammbach, former Spanish tennis player Galo Blanco and Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, who is president of Kosmos.
The ITF said in a press release that "both nations have a rich Davis Cup history and have enjoyed recent success in the competition", Argentina in 2016 and Britain in 2015.
The qualifying matches in February, in the week after the end of the Australian Open, break with tradition in several ways. They have been cut from three days to two and each rubber will be decided over three sets, not five.
In the draw, made later Wednesday, Brazil host 2015 and 2017 runners-up Belgium, Uzbekistan face Novak Djokovic's Serbia, 28-time winners Australia take on Bosnia/Herzegovina, while India welcome Italy.
The other qualifiers pair Germany against Hungary, Roger Federer's 2014 champions Switzerland tackle Russia, China meet Japan, Czech Republic travel to the Netherlands, Colombia face Sweden and Austria take on Chile.
Kazakhstan and Canada's opponents will come from regional play-off winners from the Europe/Africa zone.
"Today's draw marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Davis Cup's long and distinguished history, mixing tradition and innovation," said Haggerty.
"I have no doubt that February's qualifiers will stimulate the passion in fans and players that has always been a feature of Davis Cup, and that this will carry through to the finals where we will witness a magnificent world-class sporting spectacle."
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Updated Date: Sep 26, 2018 23:16:32 IST