2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers preview: Part I
IN the first of four parts previewing the Davis Cup Qualifiers, we take a look at the first three matches taking place this weekend across the globe. There are 12 matches all up, with the winner of each match qualifying for the Davis Cup Finals in November, while the loser of each match goes into World Group playoffs.
HUNGARY vs. FRANCE
Date: February 3-4
Venue: Tabanya Multifunctional Arena (Hungary)
Surface: Hard (Rebound Ace – Indoor)
The 24th ranked Hungary have drawn the third seeds France in what is largely predicted to be one-way traffic. Having the home court advantage will help the Hungarians, and they do have the dangerous Marton Fucsovics playing in the tie. Unfortunately while he might be able to overcome the Frenchmen in singles, he will need some help from his compatriots in order to get the win. Fucsovics will likely team up with either Fabian Marozsan or Zsombor Piros who are both ranked just inside the Top 200.
France on the other hand have three players inside the Top 60 named for the event, with the reliable Adrian Mannarino providing his experience alongside the likes of Benjamin Bonzi and Arthur Rinderknech, with Bonzi having the best form of late. Fucsovics, despite being ranked lower than them at 78th would still be favoured in the individual matches, but with doubles specialist Nicolas Mahut also there for France, one would expect at worst at 3-2 win for the world number threes.
GERMANY vs. SWITZERLAND
Date: February 3-4
Venue: Arena Trier (Germany)
Surface: Hard (Greenset Grand Prix – Indoor)
It is incredibly hard to believe that Switzerland has fallen all the way down to 40th in the world, and on sheer rankings, it would be unthinkable that a world number 40 could beat the sixth ranked nation. But the Swiss will enter their strongest team in some time, and the top-ranked German in Alexander Zverev is severely underdone. Zverev at least has some depth on his side now, no longer only relying on big-serving Jan-Lennard Struff, but also the recently improved, Oscar Otte. It gives German captain Michael Kohlmann some variety to use in the tie, as well as having the services of Top 20 doubles player, Tim Puetz.
Switzerland will undoubtedly struggle in the doubles given no one is ranked inside the Top 200, but Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka has put his hand up for the tie, and given his form of late working back into the Top 150, he should be given the nod alongside Marc-Andrea Huesler. Dominic Stricker is there as relief and is only 20 years-old with a bright future, while Alexander Ritschard has a bit more experience and is ranked just inside the Top 200. Switzerland could pull off an upset, but if Zverev can get back some form, Germany will be on top.
COLOMBIA vs. GREAT BRITAIN
Date: February 3-4
Venue: Pueblo Viejo Country Club (Colombia)
Surface: Clay (Indoor)
Two Top 20 nations go at it in the third and final preview of Part 1, with the 19th ranked Colombia hosting ninth ranked Great Britain in South America. Naturally the Colombians have opted for clay, which gives them a huge boost over their higher ranked opponents, but one would expect the British will just have too much depth, regardless of surface. Colombia do have the unpredictable Daniel Elahi Galan, but he is the only Top 200 player in the team at 70th in the world. Even causing one upset is unlikely to be enough, with the South Americans’ strength – doubles with former world number ones Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah nullified by Britain’s top three pairing.
Great Britain surprised plenty by loading up for the tie with a full-strength side. The five best possible players have all been named, with Top 30 talents Cameron Norrie and Daniel Evans alongside young star Jack Draper. Add in world number two and three in doubles, Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski and it is a lineup good enough to win the whole thing, let alone against a nation like Colombia. A 5-0 whitewash beckons, and expect Draper to get a crack if Great Britain wrap up the tie after the doubles.