Back in Davis Cup's World Group for 2017, Canada's first-round opponent will be ...

Back in Davis Cup's World Group for 2017, Canada's first-round opponent will be ...

There was, on paper, a 75 per cent chance that Canada would host its first-round Davis Cup tie in 2017, set for Feb. 3-5, 2017 immediately after the Australian Open.

The home-tie possibilities were Argentina, Belgium, France and Serbia. If Canada faced Croatia, the Czech Republic, Great Britain or Switzerland, the home ground would be decided by a coin flip.

After the draw was made Thursday morning in London, they learned their fate.

The Canadians will play Great Britain, and they will play at home.

The other matchups will be:

Italy at (1) Argentina

Belgium at Germany

Czech Republic at Australia

Switzerland at USA

France at Japan

Russia at Serbia

Spain at [2] Croatia

Because of the alternating nature of hosting Davis Cup ties, the majority of the nations who will get to host are the lower-seeded countries.

If Canada wins, it would face the winner between France and Japan in the quarter-finals April 7-9, 2017, right after the big tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. (If it's France, they would host; if it's Japan, they would have to travel to Japan)

The schedule, which is regularly subject to discussion/negotiation with the ATP, changed this year. In 2016, the first-round tie was played in early March just before the two big American Masters 1000 tournaments. The quarter-finals were played immediately after Wimbledon.

This schedule makes a lot more sense, as it keeps the Davis Cup out of that incredibly packed section of the schedule that goes from early May on clay through the grass-court season and Wimbledon.

The ITF is planning some long-awaited changes to the format, which it outlined Wednesday in advance of the draw. They also apply to the women's version of the event, the Fed Cup.

The stodgy organization, which has been under constant criticism for its unwillingness to tweak its format to allow for the 21st-century realities in professional tennis, is finally bowing to the calls.

The proposals are as follows:

·         The launch of an open bid process to assess fixed host cities for the Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals – a model used by events including the UEFA Champions League Final, Superbowl and European Rugby Champions Cup (Sounds rather "Olympic", doesn't it? Imagine if France wins the opportunity to host, and doesn't make the final? Sounds like money will talk in Asia on this one).

·         Further steps towards the introduction of a 16-team World Group for Fed Cup by BNP Paribas via the introduction of a Final Four event;

·         A full industry consultation on scheduling alternatives for the 2020 season;

·         A review of current match formats used in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, particularly the current best-of-five-sets approach and scheduling requirements during the week;

·         An extensive feasibility study, by the newly created Davis & Fed Cup Taskforce, of format changes below World Group to better support and encourage involvement in both Davis and Fed Cup - particularly by developing tennis nations, and to further increase worldwide interest and viewership;

·         A full assessment of current staging options for host venues and cities;

It will be awhile though; all these proposed changes won't even be voted on until the organizations annual general meeting in August 2017. And there's no guarantee any or all of them will get through.