Despite no WTA tournaments being played this week, it is definitely not a time-off for females tennis stars, as the Billie Jean King Cup 2023 starts this weekend. Nine ties between the top national teams will emerge the line-up of finalists for this years play-offs in women's national teams world championship, which will take part in November. Switzerland and Australia are two nations who are automatically qualified to 2023 play-offs due to being last year's finalists. The twelfth and last spot will be decided by wild-card, after acknowleding the host of play-offs. All the qualifiers matches will be played on Friday and Saturday.
USA vs Austria
The Americans want to bounce back after failed campaign in last year's BJK Cup Finals in Glasgow. US team was considered as favorites to clinch the title, but did not manage to overcome strong Czech team in group stage and did not prevail even to reach out semifinals. This time, the qualifiers draw was lucky for USA, as they play against Austria, being a host of tie taking place in Delray Beach. Despite the richness of quality and having 15 players ranked in top 100 - the most of all nations, the captain of US team did not want to tempt fate and called up a superior line-up containing Jessica Pegula and Cori Gauff as the main forces, who might secure advancing into finals without any trouble. Pegula and Gauff are backed up by other strong names. Danielle Collins does not play a perfect season in singles, losing 4 out of last 5 matches, but compensated this by winning her first career's double title in Charleston last week, together with brilliant doubles specialist Desirae Krawczyk. Caty Mcnally and Sofia Kenin complements the squad. Kenin comes back to the national team after 2 years, getting a trust on her way back to form after health issues. Austrian team contains only one player from top 100 - Julia Grabher, being classified #78 in WTA ranking. Sinja Kraus is another player designated to play in singles. The Austrians are outsiders on paper and making any fight with hosts will be a success for them.
Kazakhstan vs Poland
Polish team did not have a good luck in a draw, being paired in a tie against Kazakhstan team led by current Australian Open runner-up and Indian Wells champion - Elena Rybakina. The world's number 7 and Yulia Putintseva set up the line-up which will be a strong favorite against team Poland, who needs to combat without a presence of WTA ranking's leader - Iga Swiatek. The world's best player of last season still recovers after injury which eliminated her from taking part in Miami Open. Another top 100 player - Magdalena Frech, is also missed in the line-up, because of the wrist injury. Magda Linette will do her best to give any chances for polish team. Linette, who plays the best tennis in her career so far is always a super reliable force in Polish team, as she has won all of her last 10 games in national team appearances during BJK Cup and United Cup. Weronika Falkowska will try to support her as a second singles racquet. The 23 years-old player ranked #253 in the WTA list. The tie will be played in Astana, on clay court surface.
Great Britain vs France
The Brits could be considered as outsiders in clash against France, dealing with a need to play without their most promising player Emma Raducanu again. The US Open 2021 champ was not in the squad for the BJK Cup Finals in Glasgow last November, but even despite that, British team was able to do a huge sensation, advancing into semifinals. The team of captain Anne Keothavong need to have a hope for making an upset or higher rated opponents again, as they approach into home tie in Coventry without any player ranked in top 100. Harriet Dart and Katie Boutler are assigned to play in singles against Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet. Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls are possibly the force to have a hope in, both being decent doubles players. The matches will be played in indoor hard court arena.
Ukraine vs Czech Republic
Ukrainian team are officialy the hosts of this tie, but cannot receive Czechs in their country because of quite obvious reasons. The match-up will take part in Turkish Belek on outdoor clay complex. Team Ukraine is led by Marta Kostyuk, who will try to make a surprise against last year's BJK Cup semifinalists together with Katarina Zavatska, 261th player from WTA list in singles. The Ukrainians set up interesting pairing between doubles world's number 8 Lyudmila Kichenok and Dayana Yastremska. All this line-up will try to prevail against Czechs, who play Barbora Krejcikova and Marketa Vondrousova in singles. Krejcikova was not a part of last year's team who eliminated USA in group stage of finals in Glasgow, but comes back in the role of team's leader, being one of the best in-form players in the world this year. Marketa Vondrousova will try to capitalize on her great come back to form. She made a vital effort in Glasgow, helping her team to eliminate USA by defeating Danielle Collins in key singles match of the group stage. Czech Republic will not set up their super doubles pairing Krejcikova/Siniakova in doubles, because the latter is not called up to the squad, but Karolina Muchova and Linda Noskova are also a force to reckon. The Czechs will be very difficult to defeat in this match-up.
Germany vs Brazil
Possibly one of the most intriguing match-up, which is played in Stuttgart, where world's top females will compete in WTA 500 tournament next week, which traditionally opens the European clay season. Brazil brings decent line-up, obviously being led by Beatriz Haddad Maia - the singles world's number 14, who is also a superb doubles player, being ranked 20 in WTA doubles ranking. Haddad Maia is a favorite against both home representatives assigned to singles - Anna Lena Friedsam and Tatjana Maria. The best Brazilian player will be supported by great doubles specialist - Luisa Stefanini. Second singles player for the guests is Laura Pigossi. The Brazilians are slight favorites before this tie, but will strongly rely on Haddad Maia, who will be a key player in both singles and doubles. Any slump of their top racquet will be surely used by Friedsam and Maria, who are quite solid players on clay surface.
Spain vs Mexico
Spanish team needs to deal without their top star Paula Badosa, who showed signs of getting back to great form during last week's tournament in Charleston. Their second best ranked player Cristina Bucsa is also not there, so the player considered as a strongest racquet needs to be Nuria Parrizas Diaz, being ranked 80th in singles list. Parrizas Diaz and Sara Sorribes Tormo will play singles, while Rebeka Masarova and Marina Bassols Ribera are assigned to be doubles pairing for Spanish team. Despite not having a top possible line-up, the Spaniards will still be favorites of the tie played on outdoor clay in Marbella. Their opponents brought Fernanda Contreras ranked 191th and Renata Zarazua ranked 277th for singles. Giuliana Olmos is the top star of Mexican team, as the world class doubles specialist will set up a pairing with Marcela Zacarias, to make a threat on hosts in doubles.
Canada vs Belgium
The Canadians will be favorites to prevail on their home soil against Belgian team and to repeat their last year's finals appearance. Leylah Fernandez is the leading racquet to play both singles and doubles. The world's number 50 will set up a pairing with superb doubles player Gabriela Dabrowski, while Rebecca Marino will support her as second singles racquet to secure the finals spot in Vancouver's tie played on indoor hard court. Belgium will have a really tough task to overcome, but the line-up with Ysaline Bonaventure and Yanina Vickmayer as singles players and both Kirsten Flipkens and Greet Minnen being ranked 43th and 63th in doubles list, will surely be not a team to write off from intense on-court battle.
Slovakia vs Italy
Slovakian team will try to make an upset against Italians on hard court in Bratislava. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Viktoria Hruncakova will stay in front a tough challenge to prevail against Martina Trevisan and Camila Giorgi in singles. Trevisan is publicly known as superb clay court specialist who struggles on hard surfaces, but proved her abilities to play well on HC, reaching out the quarterfinals in latest WTA 1000 tournament in Miami. Giorgi has already won the tournament on hard courts in 2023, taking the title in Merida Open. Slovaks have strong doubles pairing tough, as Hruncakova and Tereza Mihalikova will be favorites over Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Jasmine Paolini. Italians are favorite there, but any result will not be a big surprise after all.
Slovenia vs Romania
Possibly the tie which attracts the fewest spotlights from all the match-ups, but also the most unpredictable at once. Hosts represented by Tamara Zidansek and Kaja Juvan in singles will try to prevail against Ana Bogdan - 58th and the highest ranked singles players from both teams and Jaqueline Adina Cristian - the 180th racquet on WTA list. The Romanians bring good doubles team consisted from Monica Niculescu and Irina Maria Bara, who will be favorites against Pia Lovric and Nina Potocnik - Slovenian players competing mainly in ITF competitions. The experience stays in favour for the guests, but it is difficult to predict a favorite there.