Argentina comfortably defeated Chile 3-0 to open its campaign in the new-style Davis Cup Finals on Tuesday.
Guido Pella beat Nicolás Jarry 6-4, 6-3 and Diego Schwartzman defeated Cristian Garín 6-2, 6-2, to give the 2016 champions the opening win in Group C.
Argentina later won a third point after their doubles duo Máximo González and Leonardo Mayer won 6-3, 7-5 against Jarry and his doubles partner Hans Podlipnik-Castillo.
"The game was good, I'm very happy to play with Leo, the first time I play and we did very well," Gonzalez said after the final match.
In the new-style Davis Cup, teams are playing only two singles and a doubles in each tie, with the group winners advancing to the knock-out stage.
France and Japan were tied after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cruised past Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2, 6-1 and Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-2.
Kazakhstan was leading the Netherlands after Mikhail Kukushkin beat Botic van de Zanschulp 6-2, 6-2.
Hosts Spain opens against Russia later Tuesday with top-ranked Rafael Nadal likely playing.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Britain’s Andy Murray will make their first appearance in the revamped competition on Wednesday.
The new Davis Cup is being played in World Cup-style with all 18 teams playing in a single venue in the same week. It is the result of a 25-year partnership between the International Tennis Federation and Kosmos, a group co-founded by Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué.
It will looks nothing like the first one in 1900, nor any other edition after that. Organisers hope the new format will be more attractive — and lucrative — than the head-to-head confrontations that took place in the past.
There will be more attractions for fans off the court, too, with high-profile artists providing entertainment at the “Caja Mágica” ("Magic Box") tennis complex, including Colombian singer Shakira — Piqué’s wife.
“To tell you the truth, I’m a bit nervous,” said Piqué last week.
“I want everything to go well, and I know that everything will go well. I’m a very optimistic and positive person,” he added.
Eighteen nations and 90 players — including top-ranked Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — will be in the Spanish capital for the inaugural Davis Cup Finals.
“It will be a spectacle,” Spain player Feliciano López said. “We have to thank everybody for making this happen. The atmosphere will be incredible this week.”
Organisers said 100,000 tickets have been sold for the season-ending tournament that will attract more than 700 journalists to Madrid and will be broadcast to more than 170 countries.
“The competition will be much easier to follow for all kinds of audiences as the title will be decided in just one week,” Kosmos Tennis CEO Javier Alonso told The Associated Press.
The 18 teams will play in six groups of three, with the group winners advancing to the knockout stage along with the two best second-place teams. The nations will play within their groups Monday-Thursday, with the knock-out rounds Friday-Sunday. The matches will take place on hard courts in three stadiums in morning and afternoon sessions that will include two singles matches and a doubles match.
In past years, the competition featured head-to-head matchups played at varied sites over four weekends throughout the year, a tradition some critics — and some players — didn’t want to see changed.
But the ITF said the 25-year partnership with Kosmos was key to increasing revenue and aiding the local tennis federations worldwide.
Having the new competition condensed into a single week and one venue helped attract new sponsors, and made it easier for top players to include the Davis Cup in their busy schedules. Prize money of US$20 million in total, rivalling those awarded in Grand Slams, also helped attract players.
“People can expect of course a big event with the best tennis players of the world representing their countries, and also a new entertainment concept for the competition, with big stars taking part in the opening and closing ceremony such as Shakira and Alan Walker,” Alonso said. “With this new formula new audiences will also get involved in Davis Cup.”
The new formula should bring new life to the event, but it also added some unprecedented logistical challenges, with organisers having to build 18 separate changing rooms for each team at the Caja Mágica, which usually hosts the Madrid Open. Seven additional training courts also had to be built to accommodate all teams.
Twelve nations made it to the finals through a qualifying round, while last year's Davis Cup semi-finalists — Croatia, France, Spain and the United States — were given automatic spots. Britain and Argentina received wild-card berths. The seeded teams will be France, Croatia, Argentina, Belgium, Britain and the United States.
Home-crowd favourites Spain, featuring the top-ranked Nadal, will be in the toughest group along with Russia and defending champion Croatia. Murray, trying to make a comeback from injury, will lead Britain’s team, while Australia will feature the hot-tempered Nick Kyrgios. Among those missing because of injury are Japan’s Key Nishikori and Canada’s Milos Raonic. Roger Federer is not playing because Switzerland didn’t qualify.