Davis Cup Qualifiers preview III: Argentina seeks redemption

DAVIS Cup qualifiers are set to get underway this weekend, with the traditional format – reverse singles and one doubles – in place for the matches. Over the next three days, we will preview the 12 World Group clashes, with the winners advancing to the Davis Cup Finals in November.


Oslo Tennis Arena, Oslo, Norway | Indoor Hard

Though there are five Norwegians on the team, effectively it comes down to two, with world number eight Ruud and the only other player within the Top 1000 from the nation, in Durasovic. The pair will play both singles, then combine in doubles against a pretty solid Kazakhstan outfit. Ruud should pick up both singles wins against Bublik (world number 32) and Kukushkin (160th), but it is 321st-ranked Durasovic who might struggle.

Durasovic defeated Pablo Andujar in a Sydney upset earlier this year, but did not win a singles match at the ATP Cup, and both Bublik and Kukushkin will likely be too consistent for the Norwegian. Bublik – who takes him on in the second tie – in particular will be too strong. Top 75 doubles pairing of Nedovyesov and Golubev should also have the experience in that format over Ruud and Durasovic, but with Ruud clearly the best on court that can always have an impact. The doubles is where it will likely be decided.

Captain: Anders HasethCaptain: Yuriy Schukin
Casper Ruud
Viktor Durasovic
Lukas Hellum-Lilleengen
Herman Hoeyeraal
Simen Sunde Bratholm
Alexander Bublik
Mikhail Kukushkin
Dmitry Popko
Aleksandr Nedovyesov
Andrey Golubev


Helsingborg Arena, Helsingborg, Sweden | Indoor Hard

In a head-to-head that only features one Top 100 singles player and two specialist doubles players, the clash between Sweden and Japan could truly go either way. Both have had stars of eras gone by, but with Japan’s two Top 100 players in Kei Nishikori and Yoshihito Nishioka both missing from the tie, it gives the surprisingly higher-ranked Sweden a huge chance. The Ymer brothers are in good form in 2022, and they will lead the singles against Daniel who is no slouch either. The Japanese second singles player – which is a flip of a coin between Uchiyama and Watanuki are both just inside the Top 300.

It means Sweden should pick up both those wins, but at least Mikael’s singles over Daniel, whilst McLachlan and Goransson are both specilist doubles players, with partners coming along for the ride. Given the omissions for Japan, Sweden should back up their 10th seed and follow with a win, though there is not much between the 14th ranked Swedes and the 18th ranked Japanese.

Captain: Robin SoderlingCaptain: Satoshi Iwabuchi
Mikael Ymer
Elias Ymer
Dragos Nicolae Madaras
Andre Goransson
Taro Daniel
Yasutaka Uchiyama
Yosuke Watanuki
Shintaro Mochizuki
Ben McLachlan


Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina | Outdoor Clay

All signs are pointing to an impressive Argentinian win at home on the clay where the players have been contesting tournaments for the past month. They come up against a Czech Republic side with a couple of high-potential youngsters, but with the event on clay instead of hard court, it weights it heavily in the home side’s favour. The fact Argentina – a nation with seven Top 100 players – is ranked 15th in the world and was not even in the World Group last year, is mindblowing.

In saying that, Schwartzman had the biggest shock loss in recent history, going down to a 2153rd ranked Belarussian who had only just graduated school and never played outside Belarus before on his home court in Argentina. It was arguably the most bizarre Davis Cup result in modern history, but luckily the Argentinians bounced back to win 4-1 and now Schwartzman, the in-form Baez, and Coria will take on the the two rising stars in Lehecka and Machac. Aged 20 and 21-years-old respectively, the pair should trouble the Argentinians, but being home on clay, the South American outfit should be too strong. Capped off with a Top 25 doubles pairing of the ever-green 39-year-old Gonzales and world number five, 37-year-old Zeballos and Argentina should have the doubles as well against a non-specific doubles pairing.

Captain: Guillermo CoriaCaptain: Jaroslav Navaratil
Diego Schwartzman
Sebastian Baez
Federico Coria
Horacio Zeballos
Maximo Gonzalez
Jiri Lehecka
Tomas Machac
Zdenek Kolar
Vit Kopriva


Olympic Park Tennis Court, Seoul, Republic of Korea | Indoor Hard

In a full-strength Davis Cup world, this contest would be one-sided with Dominic Thiem being the powerhouse leader and effectively putting his Austrian side 2-0 up before any acceptances. But without him, it evens things a little, given Kwon in the highest ranked player in the tie, with the South Korean 24-year-old ranked at 65 in the world. He could very well win both his singles, and give the home nation a sniff in this contest. South Korea are ranked way down in 27th, with the 16th ranked Austrians still marginal favourites given both Novak and Rodionov are capable of upsets, and against the opposition quality, could easily win their respective singles.

Kwon does not have any depth beside him, with all three other singles players ranked outside the Top 400, and the 462nd ranked Nam named as the second singles player, against both Novak and Rodionov who are inside the Top 200. Erdler and Miedler are just outside the Top 100 for doubles too, which makes them a fairly strong combination, but captain Melzer – ranked 129th in doubles the world and former number eight in singles – has left the door ajar for a special return for the team event, having retired from the ATP Tour last October.

Captain: Seung-Kyu ParkCaptain: Jurgen Melzer
Soonwoo Kwon
Jisung Nam
Seong Chan Hong
Minkyu Song
Dennis Novak
Jurij Rodionov
Lucas Miedler
Alexander Erler
Jurgen Melzer

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