Billie Jean King Cup: 3 reasons why USA are favourites in 2024

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula in doubles action
Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula could lead USA to the Billie Jean King Cup title this year

The eyes of women’s tennis fans rest on the Billie Jean King Cup this week, with the ‘World Cup of Tennis’ taking centre stage.

Continental ties are already underway but later this week some of the biggest nations in the sport will battle it out to reach this year’s Finals, once again held in Seville this November.

Among those taking to court are the USA, looking for a record-extending 19th title in the prestigious team competition.

And we look at why the nation should be considered the favourites to do just that.

Strength and depth

The US have by far and away the strongest team of any of the 16 nations in qualifier action.

Against Belgium, world No 5 Jessica Pegula will lead the charge, the 30-year-old rediscovering some nice form across Miami and Charleston in recent week.

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She is joined by world No 20 Madison Keys – a veteran of this event – while making her Billie Jean King Cup debut is world No 21 Emma Navarro, one of the breakthrough stars of 2024.

Also included are Caroline Dolehide and Taylor Townsend, both top 60 players who, potentially alongside Pegula, may compete in the doubles.

The strength does not stop with the players in this squad; world No 3 and US Open champion Coco Gauff could come in if qualification is achieved, proving a major asset across singles and doubles.

In-form Danielle Collins – US No 3 currently – is a further option for singles rubbers, as are former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, and Peyton Stearns.

Options are abundant – a luxury few other nations possess.

Inspirational new captain

Previous captain Kathy Rinaldi stood down at the end of 2023, ending a seven-year spell which saw her guide her nation to victory in 2017 and again to the final in 2018 under the old event format.

Replacing her was always going to be a difficult task, but the USA has struck gold with their choice of a new captain; Lindsay Davenport.

No American woman in history has played the competition over more years than Davenport, representing her nation in 11 seasons.

She played a vital part in the teams that won the competition in 1996, 1999, and 2000, and was also a runner-up on multiple occasions.

Davenport gets what the Billie Jean King Cup is about and will know how to prepare each and every player; she can help spur this team to great heights.

Favourable draw

The USA were one of the seeded teams for the qualifying draw, which should prove an advantage, but ties against Poland – led by Iga Swiatek – and Japan – led by Naomi Osaka – were a possibility.

But the draw gods were kind; a home tie in Orlando against Belgium awaits.

Belgium has had huge success in this event in the past thanks to Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, but they are not the force they used to be.

And, with leading singles and doubles star Elise Mertens absent, the USA are up against a depleted team across the five rubbers.

Hanne Vandewinkel and Sofia Costoulas – ranked 278th and 279th respectively – are Belgium’s likely singles players, with captain Wim Fissette not exactly spoiled for choice.

Make no bones about it: the USA are overwhelming favourites to progress and should do just that.

Potential stumbling blocks

The fact that the USA has not won the title since 2017 – despite longstanding strength – means nothing is guaranteed.

Last year the team were hamstrung by the withdrawals of Pegula and Gauff, who were unable to play due to the unhealthy turnaround between the WTA Finals in Mexico, and the BJK Cup in Spain.

The two events are in consecutive weeks again and top-10 stars Gauff and Pegula may have a choice to make, though the turnaround between Riyadh and Spain should be much less tiring.

And though they have great depth, other nations have multiple options; Czechia dominated the event in the 2010s, and still potentially has a strong team with Marketa Vondrousova and Barbora Krejcikova, among others.

The USA should not be handed the title quite yet – but there is no denying they are in pole position to triumph.

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