Spain begin their title defence at home against Kazakhstan in a first meeting between the two nations. The hosts enter the tie as firm favourites given their considerable strength in depth with ten players currently ranked inside the Top 50. They also possess a formidable home record having not lost on Spanish soil since 1999, a run that now stretches 21 ties and is a World Group record.
Spain’s last outing was in December when a 3-1 victory over Argentina at the Olympic Stadium in Seville sealed their fifth Davis Cup triumph. That tie was Albert Costa’s last in the captain’s chair with new skipper Alex Corretja taking over in time for this tie. The two-time Roland Garros runner-up enjoyed a distinguished Davis Cup playing career himself and was a key member of the first Spanish team to lift the famous old trophy in 2000.
Kazakhstan, who competed under the combined Soviet Union flag until 1994, are relative new boys in the World Group, having made a successful debut in the top division in 2011. Led by Andrey Golubev and Mikhail Kukushkin, they scored a famous 3-2 away win against Czech Republic before falling to eventual runners-up Argentina in the quarterfinals. Yegor Shaldunov’s men are still awaiting their first taste of World Group action at home.