Can we defend next year?
Too early, perhaps.. But..
We are to play Czech Rep and then, perhaps, Argentina. Both away ties.
The bottomline is, we need Yevgeny. At least on paper. Just to cover our serious weakness on fastcourt end. Marat can play fastcourts. But I do not think Misha can, his game is tailor-made for slower surfaces, clay in particular. And we need the doubles team. So, I reckon, Zhenya has to stay, at least in case we play indoors hardcourts/carpet and for doubles.
First tie - Czech Republic. February. So it's indoors, guaranteed.
I think, it is going to be indoor hardcourts, or, maybe clay. But the surface is likely to be slow. Novak isn't good on fastcourts. If it is hardcourts, we need Zhenya, if it is clay, we don't need him for singles, but we do need him for doubles.
Second tie - Argentina. It's going to be an epic, if both teams get there. You can say it already. Again both teams are stronger on slower surface end. But I think, we are stronger. I think, time will show how actually good Misha can be on clay.
If we get to the semis. It's most likely to be Spain, and in Moscow and on carpet. And that's where we'll need Zhenya badly.
What could be good about final, it'd most likely to be in Moscow.
Overall, I think we have a good 25% chance to defend. That's not too little. If we manage to get through the first two rounds, I think we'll be odds-on favourites to defend.