LONDON (AP) _ The United States today drew Mexico as its first-round opponent in next year's Davis Cup, with the series to be played in the United States, a favorable pairing that should give the Americans a relatively smooth road to the semifinals.

Russia, which faces the United States in December for the 1995 title, was drawn to play at Italy in the Feb. 9-11 opening round of 1996.

Germany, beaten by Russia in the semifinals last month, will play at Switzerland. Sweden, semifinal loser to the United States, will be at home against Belgium.

The draw sets the stage for replays of this year's semifinals, with Russia and Germany drawn in the top half of the bracket and the United States and Sweden in the bottom half.

``From an interest point of view, Mexico is a good draw for us,'' said United States Tennis Association president Les Snyder. ``You never know about the outcome, but we're happy with the draw.

``It's difficult for us to think too far ahead with the finals for this year still coming up with Russia.''

Mexico, which returns this year to the 16-team World Group bracket, lost 3-2 to the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup in 1991 to a team headed by Brad Gilbert and Jim Courier.

Mexico's top-ranked player is Oscar Ortiz at No. 242, followed by Luis Herrera (260), Alejandro Hernandez (307) and Leonardo Lavalle (348).

By contrast, the Americans head into the Dec. 1-3 finals in Moscow with a team likely to be headed by world No. 1 Andre Agassi and No. 2 Pete Sampras.

Snyder said the Mexico match was likely to be played in the southwestern United States. He said a team captain would probably be named before the final in Russia, with current captain Tom Gullickson reported likely to continue.

Other World Group first-round pairings pit Austria at South Africa, Denmark at France, the Netherlands at India, and Hungary at the Czech Republic.

Second-round matches are April 5-7 with the semifinals scheduled for Sept. 20-22 and the finals Nov. 29-Dec. 1.