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The Current Davis Cup Is Disappearing, but Teams Still Want to Win It

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The Croatians have two strong singles players in the sixth-ranked Cilic and the 18th-ranked Borna Coric, as well as one of the world’s leading doubles players in Mate Pavic. He usually teams with Austrian Oliver Marach of Austria on tour but is expected play with Ivan Dodig for Davis Cup, unless the captain, Zeljko Krajan, decides to have Cilic play doubles.

For some, the most intriguing pairing in Zadar was always going to be the chair umpire Carlos Ramos and Katrina Adams, the president of the United States Tennis Association. Adams openly suggested sexism had played a role in Ramos’s clash with Serena Williams during the U.S. Open women’s singles final, which Williams lost to Naomi Osaka last Saturday after receiving three code violations.

Ramos, who will be in the chair for the Davis Cup in Croatia, spoke with Adams on Thursday, and The Associated Press reported overhearing Adams offer an apology for the fallout from the Open final. But Adams denied an interview request seeking to confirm the report.

In light of her public criticism of Ramos, any apology really ought to be just as public.

With Isner and Sock out, Courier has called on the 26-year-old Ryan Harrison and the 20-year-old Frances Tiafoe, a talented youngster ranked 40th who has a very tough assignment for his Davis Cup debut: facing Cilic on the road Friday.

“One thing we know and love about Davis Cup is that it’s rarely predictable,” Courier said.

It is usually meaningful, however, and there may not be much at stake in the other tier of matches being played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In a normal year, the eight teams to win in the qualifying round this weekend would next year advance to the World Group, the top level of the competition.

But with the changes, the winners will be guaranteed only a seeding in the opening round of Davis Cup next February: a 24-team, home-and-away round that will determine 12 of the teams that advance to the newfangled finals.

To make matters more confusing, the losers in this weekend’s qualifying round will also still qualify for next year’s opening round if their Davis Cup rankings are high enough to make the cut.

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