Switzerland’s gold-plated pair of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka are expected to do all of the heavy lifting against Kazakhstan after the draw made on Thursday for their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final.
Newly crowned Australian Open winner Wawrinka starts the tie on Friday against Kazakh Andrey Golubev while 17-time grand slam champion Federer then faces Mikhail Kukushkin.
The 2008 Olympic gold-medal Swiss pair will then team up in Saturday doubles against the visiting duo of Evgeny Korolev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
Federer has changed his tennis career strategy and appears set to play the entire Davis Cup program after last participating in a tie in 2012. Wawrinka has always been charged up for the world team competition and is especially so this season, perhaps the best chance for the Swiss to lift the title.
“I think it can feel strange for everybody when you have Roger on the team and he is number two in the tie,’ said national number one Wawrinka, ranked third to Federer’s fourth.
“It’s just because I played so well at the beginning of the season winning my first grand slam – I know that’s my ranking and I deserve it because I’m playing really good and I’m happy with that.
“Roger is back playing good tennis, he is confident, and I’m sure he’ll play amazing tennis the rest of the year.”
Kazakh captain Dias Doskarayev knows his side of minnows go in as definite underdogs: “It’s going to be a tough weekend. This is our third time in the quarters but Switzerland have got their team together and their goal is to win the Davis Cup. But I believe in our guys.”
Switzerland look to take revenge for a 5-0 Kazakh win in the only previous meeting, in 2010. The Swiss have not reached a World Group semi-final since 2003.
In Naples, British supporters may be praying for forecast rain to arrive on Friday as Andy Murray fights to beat a stomach virus in time to face Italy.
The Scot is due to make his start in the second singles rubber, taking on Andreas Seppi after Italy’s Fabio Fognini plays Brit James Ward.
“In the last 24 hours Andy has come down with some sort of virus,” said captain Leon Smith of his player who missed the draw ceremony.
“It doesn’t seem seriously bad. He is desperate to play and is very committed, he has actually looked very good in practice, very sharp.”
Britain have not reached a semi-final since 1981 while Italy lost the 1998 final to Sweden.
Japan will be missing top man Kei Nishikori in the Tokyo tie against defending champions Czech Republic, who do not have the services of Tomas Berdych.
The Czechs will lean heavily on 34-year-old Radek Stepanek, who teamed with Berdych to lift the Davis trophy for the nation at the last two editions.
In Nancy, France’s Julien Benneteau opens against German Tobias Kamke, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga facing unknown Peter Gojowczyk as visiting captain Carsten Arriens tries to make do with big guns Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer all out injured.