TENNIS FED CUP 2015 – One week after the end of the Australian Open, the focus of tennis fans now turns the first round of the World Group and the World Group II. The top-three players Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep will be in action this weekend. The first round of the World Group features exciting match-ups like Poland vs Russia, Germany vs Australia, Italy vs France and Canada vs Czech Republic. Diego Sampaolo
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will return to playing the Fed Cup seven days after battling it out for the Australian Open title in Melbourne.
Sharapova will provide the headline story this weekend when she will return to represent Russia for the first time since February 2012 in the Indoor match against Poland in Krakow. Masha, who skipped the Fed Cup in recent years, will play in the team event in order to be eligible for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Russia will be also represented by Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova, 2009 Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vitalia Diatchenko against the Polish team led by sisters Agnieszka and Urszula Radwanska. The Russian team will be looking to bounce back from the first-round loss against Australia in 2004.
There is a good possibility that Sharapova will face her Polish rival Agnieszka Radwanska in what could be one of the highlights of the weekend. Sharapova has a win-loss record of 11-2 in the previous 13 head-to-head matches against Radwanska. The Polish star helped her team return to the World Group with three wins against Spain.
The match between Poland and Russia will be held in the Krakow Arena on Indoor hard court. The Arena can hold 15000 spectators.
“I have had good success against Agnieszka but the matches have always been very tough and that’s what you have to expect against her especially in the Fed Cup environment”, said Sharapova.
Poland has not played a World Group tie on home soil since losing the match against Spain in Sopot in 2010. The Polish team gained promotion to the World Group last year.
“It’s very exciting to play at home. It’s going to be a huge match and there are going to be a lot of people out there because tennis is getting bigger and bigger in Poland”
Defending champions from Czech Republic will play against Canada in Quebec City. The Czech team will play without last year’s Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova, who contributed significantly to the win of the Fed Cup Trophy against Germany in Prague, but will rely on rising star Karolina Pliskova who reached the Sydney final earlier this year, Lucie Hradecka, who upset Ana Ivanovic in the first round at the Australian Open and Tereza Smitkova. Canada will miss their biggest star Eugenie Bouchard and rely on Gabriela Dabrowski, Sharon Fichman, Francoise Abanda and 16-year-old Charlotte Robillard Millette. Czech Republic boasts a 5-0 win-loss record in the previous head-to-head matches against Canada.
Czech Republic won eight Fed Cup titles and three of the last four editions.
Italy, who won four Fed Cup trophies, will be bidding to get through to the semifinals for the seventh consecutive year in the home match against France on Indoor clay at the 105 Stadium in Genoa.
The Italian team will be represented by their top player Sara Errani, Camila Giorgi, Roberta Vinci and Karin Knapp. Errani bounced back from a difficult start of the season reaching the third round at the Australian Open after being plagued by physical problems during the build-up to the season.
Giorgi played a good Australian Open in which she came close to an upset win over Venus Williams in the third round in Melbourne. Roberta Vinci reached the quarter final in Hobart before losing against Ekaterina Makarova in the second round at the Australian Open. Knapp, who also reached the Hobart quarter final, lost in the first round against Simona Halep in Melbourne.
Errani and Vinci have completed the Career Grand Slam last year winning the doubles title at Wimbledon, their second Major win in 2014 after the Australian Open.
The Italian team start as favourite but they cannot underestimate the French team captained by Amelie Mauresmo who will rely on Alizé Cornet, Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic and Pauline Parmentier.
Cornet, who beat Serena Williams twice in the WTA circuit last year, reached the third round at the Australian Open where she lost to Dominika Cibulkova.
Garcia also reached the third round in Melbourne where she lost to Eugenie Bouchard. Mladenovic lost the doubles final against at Wimbledon against Errani and Vinci last year.
France leads 6-3 in the head-to-head Fed Cup matches but Italy won their last three matches. Italy broke the losing streak in 2006 when they won 4-1 in Nancy. In the last two matches between the two neighboring countries Italy won 3-2 in Castellaneta Marina in 2007 and 5-0 in Orleans in 2009. In these two matches France featured Amelie Mauresmo, who will captain France in Genoa after guiding Andy Murray to the Australian Open last week.
A possible interesting match-up could feature World Number 13 Sara Errani and Alizé Cornet. Errani won the last four matches against Cornet since dropping their first head-to-head match in Charleston in 2008.
“My matches against Alizé have always been tough. I lost against Garcia twice last year. They have good players- We will play on clay but they are going to play very well on clay, so it will be very tough. I think that the Fed Cup will be always a very tough match. It’s always difficult to play for your country”, said Errani
The 2012 Roland Garros finalist explained that the secret for Italian success in the most recent editions of the Fed Cup which saw the “Azzurre” lift four titles and reach the semifinal for seven consecutive years, is the good relationship between the players inside the team.
“We are a very good team and we are very close friends outside the court. I think it is important when you have the week of Fed Cup. We are strong because stay really together. We know each other really well. We have fun. We love to play for our country and we feel very good playing in the Fed Cup. It’s important for us that we give everything on the court”, said Errani.
The winner of the match between Italy will take on either Czech Republic or Canada, who will make their debut in the World Group.
France has returned to the World Group for the first time since 2011. Cornet credits much of the success of the French team to Amelie Mauresmo.
“Mauresmo has been a good captain. She has a lot of experience and she always gives good advice. She knows how it feels how it feels to be on court. She knows what kind of emotion we are passing through during a match, so she has always the right words”, said Cornet.
Last year’s Fed Cup runner-up Germany will host Australia at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart on Indoor court. German captain Barbara Rittner will rely on Angelique Kerber, 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges. Australia will feature Sam Stosur, Casey Dellacqua, Jarmila Gajdosova and Olivia Rogowska. Australia leads 8-5 in the 14 previous matches against Germany. Last year Germany beat Australia in the semifinal in Brisbane. Goerges is in good form at the moment after reaching the quarter final in Auckland and the fourth round at the Australian Open where she beat Bencic, Koukalova and Hradecka before losing to Makarova.
The World Group II will feature very interesting matches. The headliner will be Australian Open champion Serena Williams who will lead a star-studded US team against Argentina in Buenos Aires. The US team, which will try to return to the World Group, will also feature seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, who reached the quarter final in Melbourne, Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys and World Number 30 Varvara Lepchenko. The US team leads 3-1 in the previous head-to-head matches against Argentina
The Danube Arena in Galati will play host to the match between home team Romania featuring last year’s Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep and Irina Camelia Begu (who reached the third round at the Australian Open) against Spain, who will be led by Garbine Muguruza, who will make her debut in the Fed Cup.
Dominika Cibulkova, who reached the quarter final at the Australian Open, will lead Slovakia against the Netherlands in Apeldorn. The Slovakian team starts as clear favourite
Seventeen-year-old Belinda Bencic, US Open quarter finalist, and Timea Bacsinszky, who finished runner-up in Shenzhen and reached the third round at the Australian Open, will carry the hopes of Switzerland against Sweden in Helsingborg
Fed Cup Finals And Play-Offs Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns
The Fed Cup Finals and play-offs have been postponed due to fears over the Coronavirus.
April’s Fed Cup Finals and play-offs have been postponed due to current health concerns associated with the coronavirus.
Today’s announcement comes hours after the Hungarian government announced a ban on any indoor events which has more than 1000 people in it.
The Fed Cup finals were due to take place between the 14th and 19th of April in Budapest but the increasing amount of cases around the world and 13 in Hungary left the ITF with no choice.
In addition, April’s play-offs have also been postponed and will be moved to a later date, with the ITF finding away to solve the problem around eligibility for the summer’s Olympic games.
Speaking on the announcement, ITF President David Haggerty expressed his disappointment but insisted health is more important, “We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision, but we will not risk the safety and welfare of players, captains, event staff or spectators,” Haggerty said.
“This decision has not been made lightly; the threat posed by the COVID-19 is a serious one and calls for us to act responsibly as a federation and as human beings. This situation goes beyond sport.
“New dates for the Finals and for the Play-offs will be announced in due course and will primarily be guided by the length of time that tennis as a whole is affected by COVID-19. We will continue to collaborate with our colleagues across the sport to ensure that the impact on players, tournaments, rights holders and fans is as minimal as possible.”
The Fed Cup Finals and play-offs are the second tennis event to be postponed because of the coronavirus after the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was cancelled a couple of days ago.
Currently the Miami Open is set to go ahead although there is a big chance that this tournament could also be cancelled.
The ATP and WTA tournament at the Hard Rock Stadium is set to start on Monday the 25th of March.
Fed Cup Finals Draw: Australia And Czech Republic Given Tricky Tests In Budapest
Australia and Czech Republic have been handed difficult draws for the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.
Australia and Czech Republic have been given tricky draws ahead of the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest.
The event in Hungary takes place on the 14th-19th of April on clay to prepare players for the clay-court season that will approach.
In the inaugural event there are 12 nations competing for the Fed Cup title with the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals.
Ahead of April’s Fed Cup finale, the draw was announced today which has seen some mouth-watering matches set to take place.
Last year’s finalist’s Australia are in Group B and they have been given tricky tests against a strong Belarus team and Belgium.
Belarus have Aryna Sabalenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Victoria Azarenka at their disposal while Belgium will be lead by Elise Mertens.
Meanwhile the other group in their half of the draw will see Czech Republic will face tough tests against Germany and a Switzerland team lead by Belinda Bencic.
On the other side of the draw, defending champions France will look to successfully defend their title when they face Russia and hosts Hungary.
Given the scenarios, this is a fairly good draw for France who would regard clay as their strongest surface and are favourites to make the last four.
In the last four, France could play USA who have been drawn with Spain and Slovakia who beat Great Britain in last weekend’s qualifiers.
Here is the full draw with the full round-robin schedule for April’s finals set to be released on Monday:
Winner of Group A v Winner of Group C
Winner of Group B v Winner of Group D
Great Britain Handed Mexican Away Trip In Fed Cup Play-Off Draw
Great Britain face another away tie as they travel to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Offs.
Great Britain have been handed an away trip to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Off draw as they look to compete in next year’s qualifiers.
The Brits, who were without Johanna Konta in their 3-1 defeat away to Slovakia, will now head to Mexico in April looking to avoid being relegated to Zone Group I.
Just like their tie in Bratislava, they are likely to be without Johanna Konta who has one eye on the Olympic Games and also like their tie this past weekend the tie will probably be on clay.
However this time the British team will be favourites to make next year’s Fed Cup qualifiers as the Mexican don’t have a single Women’s singles player in the top 200.
There will be eight Fed Cup play-offs which will be played on the 17th and 18th of April, with the eight winners joining eight teams from the Fed Cup finals.
14 of the 16 teams are confirmed with the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I still needed to be played in early March in Dubai after the Coronavirus epidemic meant that China couldn’t host the event in February.
Here is the full Fed Cup play-off draw:
(C) = Choice of Ground
Brazil v Poland (C)
Great Britain v Mexico (C)
Canada v Serbia (C)
Latvia (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
Japan (C) v Ukraine
Romania (C) v Italy
Kazakhstan v Argentina (C)
Netherlands (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
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