2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers preview: Part II
IN the second of four parts previewing the Davis Cup Qualifiers, we take a look at the next 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.
NORWAY vs. SERBIA
Date: February 3-4
Venue: Oslo Tennis Arena (Norway)
Surface: Hard (Plexipave – Indoor)
Could Norway cause a massive upset against a Serbian side missing the best player in the world? Everything falls on the shoulders of world number three, Casper Ruud who will be disappointed about his Australian Open showing as second seed. It is well documented he is a one-man show for his nation, though Viktor Durasovic tries his guts out. It is a fairly predictable result that Durasovic will lose both his singles and Ruud will likely win both of his, meaning the tie will come down to the doubles.
Serbia has Top 30 talent Miomir Kecmanovic, as well as the unpredictable Filip Krajinovic and Laslo Djere. All three have various strengths and should knock off Durasovic without too many issues, while Ruud has a few too many weapons for them. With doubles specialist Nikola Cacic at the ready, he and like Kecmanovic will team up in that format, against realistically Ruud and Durasovic. If Norway can cause a massive upset, Ruud will be a national hero as he has a pretty huge task ahead of him.
SWEDEN vs. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Date: February 3-4
Venue: The Royal Tennis Hall (Sweden)
Surface: Hard (Greenset Grand Prix – Indoor)
A relatively straightforward match with the far stronger side getting the home court advantage, expect Sweden to continue its yo-yoing between the World Group and the Qualifiers. Not good enough to do any damage at the Finals, Sweden should have no issues here and book another spot in the final 16, lead by the Ymer brothers, Mikael and Elias. Both are similar to the nation in terms of their rankings, hanging around the Top 100, with Mikael now into 69th, while older brother Elias is out at 124. One player that many Swedish fans will hope takes the court is 19-year-old Leo Borg, the son of 11-time Grand Slam winner and former world number one, Bjorn Borg.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has long relied on the contribution of Damir Dzumhur who gives his all, but even if he wins his two singles, it is hard to see his nation getting another match win. Tomislav Brkic is the specialist doubles player in the team, but is ranked similar to Sweden’s specialist doubles player in Andre Goransson. Expect the 13th ranked Sweden to bump the 29th ranked Bosnia and Herzegovina down a few ranking spots with the victory.
CROATIA vs. AUSTRIA
Date: February 4-5
Venue: Sportska Dvorna Zamet (Croatia)
Surface: Hard (Rebound Ace – Indoor)
A determined Croatia has done a Great Britain and named a full-strength outfit to take on Austria, who to be fair, has also named the best it has to offer. Unfortunately for Austria, its best player – Dominic Thiem – is still on the comeback trail from injury and will need to be managed across five-set matches. He at least has some depth however, with not just Dennis Novak anymore, but the younger, 23-year-old Jurij Rodionov also in the Top 150. The doubles pairing of Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler is also strong, and to be honest, on paper the Austrian team is pretty solid, but it just will not win.
Croatia has one of the best doubles pairings in the world with Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic likely to beat just about anyone they come up against, while the Top 25 talents in Marin Cilic and Borna Coric are incredibly strong inside the Top 30 in the world. Though he has been named, Cilic is next to no chance to take the court, recovering from surgery which saw him miss the Australian Open, and he will likely sit this one out. Borna Gojo will come in, and will likely still be favoured against the Austrian second singles players, which will be a key to Croatia getting up. Expect the Croatians to win 3-2 or 4-1, which is unfortunate for Austria who has a stronger team on paper than a Sweden, or another nation likely to win through to the Finals.