Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., is among Canadians continuing in the Davis Cup finals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada avoids world’s top players in opening round of Davis Cup

MADRID — Canada has avoided a confrontation with any of the current top eight singles players in the world in the opening round of the inaugural Davis Cup finals.

In the draw on Thursday, No. 13-ranked Canada was placed in Group F with the sixth-ranked United States and No. 10 Italy for the Nov. 18-24 competition.

The format saw the top six teams placed in one of six pools before teams from Nos. 7-12 were drawn into groups, followed by squads from Nos. 13-18. The three teams in each group will play a round-robin in the opening round.

The winner of each group and the two best second-place teams advance to the quarterfinals.

The semifinalists automatically qualify for the 2020 Davis Cup finals.

The top singles player in Canada’s group is No. 9 John Isner of the U.S. Canada’s Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., follows at No. 14 and Italy’s Fabio Fognini is No. 15.

Canada booked a spot in the 2019 finals with a come-from-behind 3-2 win in Slovakia earlier this month. Canada played without Raonic, getting two singles wins from Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., and one from Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal to secure its berth.

The format has changed from previous years when all ties were held in one of the competing teams’ countries.

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