2022 BJK Cup preview: 12 teams battle it out for glory
TWELVE teams will descend on Scotland for the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup that kicks off tomorrow, with reigning runners-up Switzerland the top seed. Reigning champions Russia have been banned from the event due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, leaving Switzerland, Australia, Spain and Czech Republic as the four seeds in their respective groups. We take a look at how the tournament might go down.
Top seeds Switzerland come in with the strong one-two punch of Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann which would pose problems for most other nations. However Canada has unleashed both of its star singles players in US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu. Though not a guaranted win over Switzerland by any means, if both of them are at full strength, Canada would be favourites to top the group. Neither side has particular depth after that, while Italy has an even balance of players including Martina Trevisan and Camila Giorgi. The Mediterranean nation would be the underdogs in the group through.
Australia could have been one of the favourites for hte title had world number one Ash Barty not retired earlier in the year, but instead the nation will now be lead by Ajla Tomljanovic. She will be alongside Priscilla Hon and Storm Sanders in what is indicative of Australian depth at the moment, though remarkably, the green and gold could still advance in what is clearly the weakest overall group. Belgium will pin a lot of its hopes of Elise Mertens and experienced Alison Van Uytvanck, while Slovakia has Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Viktoria Kuzmova. Tomljanovic should win both her singles, so it will come down to whether or not the Aussies can triumph in doubles.
- Great Britain
Third seeds Spain face a far tougher task than the Aussies despite having rising star Paula Badosa coming off a good 18 months. The world number 12 is strong, but is arguably alongside a far weaker side with Nuria Parrizas Diaz her second in command. By comparison, Kazakhstan’s two stars in Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, and young gun Yulia Putintseva will provide a far stronger one-two punch, even without any other depth in the nation. Great Britain looked good until Emma Raducanu pulled out, leaving Harriet Dart, Katie Boulter and Heather Watson as the only British players taking the court in the home Davis Cup Finals.
- Czech Republic
Fourth seed Czech Republic is a threat for the overall title, but faces a stiff opponent in the group stage. Not only do they have Grand Slam winner Barbora Krejcikova and top doubles partner Katerina Siniakova, but Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, and consistent danger Karolina Pliskova. The United States clearly has the depth to match the Czechs and had the nation been in any other group they would likely advance. The nation features recent WTA Finalists Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, and Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins competing in Glasgow. Poland looked good when initial teams came out given world number one Iga Swiatek was named, but her withdrawal means the nation is left with Magda Linette and Magdalena Frech and unlikely to win a match against two of the strongest title hopes.
Last year’s runners-up Switzerland would be tipped to advance to the semi-finals to take on the winner of Czech Republic or the United States in the stronger semi-final, while Kazakhstan could well bat above its average and take on Australia in the last four. Regardless, it seems the winner of Czech Republic and United States could go all the way, and given the lop-sided groups, would have a harder group match than potential semi-final and final.