Read on for all you need to know about the upcoming battles for a place in Madrid. Twenty-four teams will compete in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Qualifiers on 6–7 March, with ties played under a home-and-away format.
Italy (6) vs Korea, Rep.
Host nation: Italy. Circolo Tennis Cagliari, Cagliari (Clay, Outdoors)
Italy finished third in Group F in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals after their tight 2–1 losses to both Canada and the United States. In March, they will be host to South Korea. It is the second meeting between the two nations (with two Italian victories) and the first since 1987. The South Koreans defeated China 3–1 in September to reach the Qualifiers for the first time.
Germany (7) vs Belarus
Host nation: Germany. Castello Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf (Hard, Indoors)
Germany defeated Argentina and Chile in Group C to reach the quarter-finals at the Caja Mágica, where they lost to Great Britain 2–0, with victories for Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans. Belarus prevailed in the only previous encounter with the Germans, dating back to 2003, and defeated Portugal 3–2 in September to advance to the Qualifiers in 2020.
Kazakhstan (8) vs Netherlands
Host nation: Kazakhstan. National Tennis Center, Nur Sultan (Hard, Indoors)
Curiously, both teams starred in the first Group E duel in Madrid, with a 2–1 victory for Kazakhstan, a win that would prove insufficient to get to the knockout rounds of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals after a tight defeat to Great Britain. In March, the two nations will meet again, under the home-and-away format of the Qualifiers and fortune smiled on Kazakhstan as hosts.
Slovakia vs Czech Rep. (9)
Host nation: Slovakia. AXA Arena NTC, Bratislava (Clay, Indoors)
This is the first confrontation between these neighbouring countries since Slovakia first disputed the Davis Cup as an independent nation in 1994. In the absence of any background, the home venue for this tie had to be decided by lot. Slovakia made it through to the Qualifiers following an impressive 3–1 victory over Switzerland, while the Czechs defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 3–2.
Austria (10) vs Uruguay
Host nation: Austria. Steiermarkhalle Schwarzlsee in Premstätten, Graz (Hard, Indoors)
The Austrian number one, Dominic Thiem, helped his team to record a narrow 3–2 victory on their visit to Finland in September. The Uruguayans, meanwhile, defeated the Dominican Republic 3–1, to debut next March in the Qualifiers. It will be the second confrontation between these two teams, after the Austrians prevailed in Montevideo in 1994, 3–2.
Japan (11) vs Ecuador
Host nation: Japan. Bourbon Beans Dome, Miki (Hard, Indoors)
Japan were on the verge of surprising France in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals, but eventually finished third in Group A in Madrid. The Japanese will expect to be able to count on the contribution of their number one, Kei Nishikori, when they face Ecuador for the first time. The Ecuadorians booked their place in the Qualifiers thanks to a convincing 4–0 victory over Venezuela.
Sweden (12) vs Chile
Host nation: Sweden. The royal Tennis Hall, Stockholm (Hard, Indoors)
Sweden defeated Israel 3–1 in September to advance to the Qualifiers, in which they will host Chile, who finished third in Group C in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals, following defeats against Argentina and Germany. The teams have already met five times, with the balance favouring the Swedes 4–1, the last meeting being in 1985. The lonely Chilean victory in those duels dates back to 1959, curiously, on Swedish soil.