2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers preview: Part III
IN Part 3 of four 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 in all, with the winner of each match qualifying for the Davis Cup Final in November, while the loser of each match advances to the World Group Qualifiers.
UZBEKISTAN v UNITED STATES
Dates: February 3 and 4
Venue: Olympic Tennis School (Uzbekistan)
Surface: Hard (Plexipave – Interior)
After winning the United Cup, the United States will be the big favorites against Uzbekistan. The fifth-seeded United States did not load their top stars, but Australian Open semi-finalist Tommy Paul was named alongside Mackenzie McDonald. With Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek in the Top 10 doubles, USA have the complete set. Denis Kudla was also named for the nation as a backup singles talent and is still ranked higher than anyone from Uzbekistan.
For a long time, Denis Istomin was Uzbekistan’s only outstanding player, reaching the Top 100. But now 36, Istomin is just inside the Top 500 and is still the man to ask for support in as team captain. . He’s alongside youngster Sergey Fomin who is the highest-ranked youngster who turned 22 this week, while Sanjar Fayziev is the doubles specialist, ranked just inside the Top 200. Overall, this should be a 5-0 whitewash.
CHILE vs. KAZAKHSTAN
Dates: February 4 and 5
Location: Campus Trentino (Chile)
Surface: Clay (Exterior)
The nation that gained home court advantage was always going to have the upper hand here, with Chile earning that honor and able to play the Davis Cup tie against Kazakhstan on the clay courts of South America. Many Chileans are clay court specialists, whereas if played on a neutral hard court the results would likely be very different. Former Top 20 player Cristian Garin has fallen to 87th in the world after a horror over the past two seasons, with him alongside Alejandro Tabilo and Nicolas Jarry as potential singles players in the tie. Clay courts give Chile a bonus, but Kazakhstan won’t fall easily.
In the past, Kazakhstan have had the three veteran singles of Mikhail Kukushkin, and Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Andrey Golubev, all of whom are now 35. They’re back, but have improved Alexander Bublik and young gun Timofey Skatov to take the reins. All things considered, Kazakhstan punches above its weight in terms of quality in both men and women, and if it had been any other surface, Kazakhstan would win easily. However, on clay it evens the playing field. They should still win, but there are fewer guarantees.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA v. BELGIUM
Dates: February 4 and 5
Venue: Olympic Tennis Court (Republic of Korea)
Surface: Hard (DecoTurf – Interior)
Belgium will travel to South Korea for a fairly balanced Davis Cup encounter. Both nations lack the depth to trouble the world’s top nations, but ranked 12th and 22nd respectively, the countries are still at the forefront. The home country is headlined by 52nd-seeded Soonwoo Kwon, who won a big title in Adelaide before a disappointing first-round defeat at Melbourne Park. He is the only outstanding player in singles, followed by Seong Chan Hong at No. 257 in the world. Jisung Nam and Minkyu Song are solid doubles players, rated around the 150 mark and could cause an upset in this format.
Looking to Belgium, the inconsistency David Goffin remains the nation’s figurehead. He turned 32 in December but is still in the Top 50, with Zizou Bergs, 23, his second in command at No. 130 in the world. Belgian doubles pair Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen are experienced, both Top 50 players in their day, and should cause South Korea considerable concern. In form, Kwon could win both of his singles matches, particularly at home, but Belgium would have to win the rest for a 3-2 victory and advance to the final.