US to play at Chile in 1st round of 2011 Davis Cup with Spain looming in quarterfinals

The United States will travel to Chile in the first round of World Group play in the 2011 Davis Cup, its second South American opponent in a row.

The U.S. or Chile will face the powerful Spaniards or outsider Belgium in the quarterfinals.

Serbia, a finalist this year, will open against India at home. Fellow finalist France will travel to Austria.

The first round is March 4-6 and the quarterfinals are set for July 8-10.

A trip to Chile will be a tough first test for the new U.S. captain after Patrick McEnroe retired following last weekend's 3-1 win in Colombia, which assured the team a spot in the World Group.

Much like the match in Colombia, Chile is expected to play the Americans on red clay, the favorite surface of almost any team playing the United States. Chile lost 4-1 to the Czech Republic in this year's quarterfinals, when it was hampered by the absence of injured top player Fernando Gonzalez.

"The good thing is that it's played in Chile," Chile captain Hans Gildemeister told radio Agricultura. "Unfortunately, Fernando (Gonzalez), who's half the team, won't be there, and the team suffers from that." Gonzalez announced on Tuesday that he'll have surgery on his right hip on Oct. 4 and will miss up to nine months.

Spain, a four-time winner since 2000, will travel to Belgium as an overwhelming favorite. The Belgians though, produced one of the upsets of the year by defeating Australia 3-2 in Cairns over the weekend.

Kazakhstan received a tough draw for its first ever Davis Cup World Group tie by having to visit the Czech Republic next March.

Kazakhstan earned a berth in Davis Cup's top tier last weekend by whitewashing favored Switzerland 5-0 in Astana in the playoffs.

Playing as an independent nation since 1995, Kazakhstan was stuck in Asia/Oceania Group 3 as recently as 2004, made it into Group 1 in 2007, then knocked off South Korea and China this year to have a shot at the World Group.

In the other World Group matches, Germany travels to Croatia, Argentina is home to Romania and Sweden is host to Russia.