A long tennis season comes to an end this weekend with the 2018 Davis Cup Final in Lille, France running from 23-25 November.
Hosts France are without some of their best players and, as a result, Croatia have been made the favourites with the bookmakers to collect the trophy at the end of three days of play.
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It has been a battling road to reach the final for both teams and their players will be giving everything to make sure that they come out on top.
France are the defending champions having beaten Belgium 3-2 a year ago in a final that was also played on home soil at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
Lucas Pouille defeated Steve Darcis to claim the decisive point and earn his side their first title in the Davis Cup since 2001.
Croatia have not won the competition since their sole success in 2005 but they did come close just two years ago. In 2016, Croatia reached the final but came up short in a 3-2 loss to Argentina in Zagreb.
This year’s final will run to the same schedule as usual, with two singles matches getting Croatia and France up and running, followed by a doubles match and then two further singles matches.
It promises to be an action-packed spectacle in Lille, but what do the betting odds tell us? That’s what we’ll be looking at today. First, we’ll look at the odds from our favourite bookmakers and then preview the Davis Cup Final below.
2018 Davis Cup Final Betting Odds
Croatia Favourites, But Not by Much
Croatia’s team is made up of Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Franko Skugor and Mate Pavic, with the bookmakers backing them to have the edge over France.
Cilic is a top tier player who goes into the Davis Cup final on the back of a solid year, while Coric is one of the rising stars on the ATP Tour and has produced a series of excellent performances over the course of Croatia’s run to the Davis Cup final.
Cilic and Coric will be fancied to take the points required from their singles matches but it is likely to be a close affair all the way through the weekend.
This is reflected in the betting odds for the Davis Cup final, which have Croatia lined up at around the 4/7 mark to get the trophy at the end of three days of play in Lille.
Home advantage can count for a lot in the Davis Cup final, though, with France having the benefit of being cheered on by thousands of their own supporters.
As such, their price of 5/4, or as high as 7/5 with some tennis betting sites, is one to consider.
Injuries Give France Selection Headache
Perhaps the main reason why France are the outsiders for the final is the players they are missing for the clash with Croatia.
Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon are all out due to injury and the trio would have been expected to be a part of the team had they been fit to take part this weekend.
Instead, France have named a team consisting of Lucas Pouille, Jeremy Chardy, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
It is a solid lineup and Pouille’s experience of last year’s Davis Cup final will count for a lot, but there is no doubt that the France side is weaker than their fans would have hoped.
Yannick Noah is taking charge of his final match for France and he will be determined to go out on a high if he can. He will be replaced by Amelie Mauresmo, who previously worked with Andy Murray on the ATP Tour.
Although France have won 10 of their 18 previous finals, you have to go all the way back to 1932 for the last time they triumphed two years in a row in the Davis Cup.
Beating Netherlands, Italy and Spain got France into the final, but their team will have to be at their best if they are to beat a strong Croatia side in Lille.
Davis Cup Set for Radical Overhaul
Fans of the Davis Cup will already be aware that the 2018 edition of the tournament will be the last with the traditional format before some radical changes are made to the format used.
At the moment, Davis Cup ties are played throughout the year before the final is used as a way to round off the tennis season as a whole.
This can lead to problems with the availability of the best players in the world, with many of them opting to take time out of their schedules instead of playing in their nations’ Davis Cup ties.
As a solution, it has been proposed that the Davis Cup is instead played in one block, which will still be played at the end of the calendar year.
The International Tennis Federation feels the changes that have been made to the Davis Cup will make it a more appealing tournament for players, with prize money set to be boosted.
But critics suggest that the unique flavour of the Davis Cup could be lost as a result of the move.
Davis Cup Final Best Bets
Those changes to the Davis Cup from next year means the 2018 final is going to be even more special than the showpiece usually is, and it is always a highlight of the sporting year.
It is just a shame that France have been unable to name their strongest team for the final, with Gasquet, Monfils and Simon all unfit to be a part of Noah’s squad.
That gives Croatia an edge even though they have to travel to Lille and play in front of France’s home fans, and their status as the pre-final favourites looks to be deserved. Canada, Kazakhstan and USA have all lost to Croatia this year and France look set to follow them too.
Coric is a star of the future and it would be no surprise to see him win a number of Grand Slam titles as his career continues to develop. He has come of age in this year’s Davis Cup.
And in Cilic, Croatia have the best player in the final, a star name who can be expected to deliver two singles points out of two.
Beating Cilic looks a tough ask for whoever Noah opts to send out on to the court and if Cilic takes maximum points from his two matches then Croatia will be in a dominant position.
The match-winning experience France have from a year ago must be taken into consideration, but Croatia look likely to win the tie and their price of 10/17 at ComeOn.com to do so is very fair indeed.