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Can France retain Davis Cup crown against Croatia?

Changes are being made to the Davis Cup in 2019, but France and Croatia do battle in Lille at the end of November to try to win the final title in its current format.

The subject of the Davis Cup has been a major talking point in the world of tennis in 2018, and it has been decided that major changes to the competition will be made for the 2019 edition. Nations will now participate in just one single tournament at one location - rather than their dedicated fans travelling far and wide to offer support to the respective sides - and the alterations have been hotly disputed. However, the current edition is still to come to a climax, and France and Croatia have been left to contest the last final in the competition's current format, with the showdown beginning in Lille on November 23.

The World Cup final was fiercely contested between these two nations and the Davis Cup odds suggest that the tennis equivalent will be no different. France have the home advantage and have taken the more notable scalps since the start of the World Group, but the betting odds indicate that everyone is expecting this match to be decided by a fifth and final rubber. Both teams can be selected at around even-money and that should tell you that this is a genuine 50-50 encounter. Croatia hold the advantage as far as world rankings are concerned with Marin Cilic and Borna Coric both being ranked inside the top 13 of the ATP standings, but France have also performed well on their own territory with the players performing above their place in the world listings.

Borna Coric playing in 2018 Davis Cup semi-final© Reuters

Both Lucas Pouille and Benoit Paire are below Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta in the world rankings, but that did not stop France from winning each of the first two singles rubbers in the semi-final with Spain. It set the tone for the rest of the tie with France wrapping up their progress by emerging victorious in the doubles. On that occasion, Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau were the selected pairing, but Pierre-Hugues Herbert will take his place in the final with his partnership with Mahut one of the best on the ATP Tour. However, Croatia are extremely well-stocked for options for the middle rubber and whoever pairs with world number three Mate Pavic will have the backing of their teammates in Lille.

The nations will be competing against each other in this competition for just the third time, but their most recent meeting came in Zadar just over two years ago. It was played on an indoor court in Croatia and the home side won the second, third and fourth rubbers to progress through to the final. Cilic won both his singles matches for the loss of just one set, but Cilic is not known for his ability on clay with two appearances in the last eight his best effort at the French Open. Coric was also relatively poor on the dirt this year, and you cannot back Croatia with much too much certainty.

This contest has the potential to be one of the greatest Davis Cup finals in history, and it would deliver a fitting conclusion to the event in this format. The main tennis bet to focus on should revolve around the amount of sets and length of the tie, and we would advise you to back more than 3.5 sets in each match and for the tie to go to a fifth rubber. If that proves to be the case, we are backing France to become the the first back-to-back winners since Czech Republic in 2012 and 2013.

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Kyle Edmund celebrates winning a point during his first-round match against Gilles Simon at Queen's on June 15, 2016
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