Madrid (AFP)

History will note that the Russian Andrey Rublev scored the first point and that Belgium won the first singles then the first match of the new Davis Cup formula on Monday in Madrid.

After an opening ceremony that was pompous with the parade of each team behind his banner in the style of the Olympics but that was ridiculous with music loud enough to cover the almost deafening silence descending from the stands to two-thirds empty from the Caja Magica Central Court, the new competition that blends the prestigious Davis Cup name with the commercial nickname of World Cup has started.

And it is clear that the public was significantly more numerous and present than the fear of the ceremony.

Thus, on the central court, the stands were heavily filled with more than half of the seats occupied for the match between the Croatia, holder of the trophy, and Russia. The small fanfare and the fifteen or so Croatian fans reacted well to the few Russian fans who pushed some "Rossia Rossia", but not enough to wake an infant during his nap. At least during the first single car, afterwards, the Spanish public took to the game during the second most spectacular single.

On the contrary, in a much smaller venue, it is true, Italian and Canadian fans have played their part perfectly by responding to each other with encouragement in the greater tradition of Davis Cup matches.

- Belgian atmosphere -

To a lesser extent, the Belgian fans also created a rather warm atmosphere during their team's match against Colombia.

The mood is expected to climb a few decibels and a few degrees Tuesday with the entry in the running of Spain, led by the idol of the public Rafael Nadal, against Russia.

On the sports side, Belgium took the lead in Group D, which also includes Australia, winning both singles against Colombia.

Steve Darcis started by beating Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-2, before David Goffin reversed the situation against Daniel Elahi Galan to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

But the South Americans will try to save the furniture thanks to their pair Robert Farah-Juan Sebastain Cabal, world N.1 in doubles, in order to preserve against the Belgians Sander Gille-Joran Vliegen of the chances for the qualification.

Because since this year, the Davis Cup finals brings together 18 separate teams in 6 groups of 3, the first and the second best 2, decided in the number of sets and games won, qualify for the quarter.

- Canada-Italy tight -

Similarly, Russia, deprived at the last moment by its leader Daniil Medvedev, "emptied", took the lead in Group B, before the debut of Spain.

In opening of the competition on the central court of Caja Magica, Andrey Rublev beat Borna Gojo 6-3, 6-3 before Karen Khachanov dominates Borna Coric 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6- 4.

The double may also be decisive in qualifying for the quarterbacks in this death group, so Khachanov and Rublev had to quickly reset the emotional counters to face Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic. Almost in stride.

A third match was played Tuesday, between Italy and Canada (group F with also the United States). Shortly before 9:00 pm, Canada led 1-0 after Vasek Pospisil's victory over Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, but Matteo Berrettini was struggling to equalize against Denis Shapovalov.

© 2019 AFP