Kolkata, Jan 27 (PTI) The Italian Davis Cup squad, led by world number 18 Marco Cecchinato, arrived here on Sunday for the World Group Qualifiers against hosts India at the South Club from February 1-2.

In absence of Italy’s top-ranked Fabio Fognini who has ruled himself out to treat an injury, Cecchinato will spearhead the team on the grass courts.

Cecchinato who made a first round exit at the Australian Open against Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic is expected to be a threat on the opening day of the tie.

Cecchinato had caused a major upset by ousting Novak Djokovic in the French Open quarters last year.

World number 35 Andreas Seppi is the next best Italians in terms of ranking. The other members of the contingent includes number 54 Matteo Berrettini, Thomas Fabbiano (102) and doubles world number 88 Simone Bolelli.

A total of 24 teams will play in the knockout qualifiers on February 1 and 2 to decide which 12 teams will play the year-end Final in Madrid in November 2019.

According to the new format, only four semifinalists from 2018 season along with two wild cards Argentina and Britain have a direct entry.

India lost their World Group Play-off to Serbia while Italy lost their quarterfinal to France. Since India are ranked 20, they again got a shot at World Group.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.