Fed Cup Preview: Angelique Kerber Leads The Field, Play-Offs Set To Overshadow Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup Preview: Angelique Kerber Leads The Field, Play-Offs Set To Overshadow Semifinals

Fed Cup returns again for the last time before the November final, this time with semifinals and play-offs which will set the stage for World Group and World Group II in 2018.

Jakub Bobro

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World Group Semifinals

 

USA – Czech Republic

The tie was initially very hyped, but it died down after both teams are missing their biggest stars. United States put the tie on outdoor clay in Tampa Bay, Florida. This decision may impair their chances, as Team USA is led by Australian Open semifinalist Coco Vandeweghe. Shelby Rogers has been named to be the No. 2 over the higher ranked Lauren Davis, as she has proven herself on clay by reaching the Roland Garros quarterfinals in 2016, but also quarterfinals in Charleston earlier this year. The aforementioned Lauren Davis will most likely only enter the tie in a dead rubber or in case of injury. Doubles World No. 1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands will also be ready to fight in the deciding doubles rubber. Czech Republic are missing their 4 best players in this tie, Kvitova because of injury and the others most likely due to the tie being played in America while the clay season is in Europe. 21 year-old Katerina Siniakova will be the leader and the team’s only Top 50 player. Captain Petr Pala decided to field the teenager and winner of WTA Biel Marketa Vondrousova as the No. 2, so she will play Vandeweghe on Day 1, despite being the lowest ranked nominated player. Kristyna Pliskova would be the presumed No. 2, but her game doesn’t really fit the surface. However, she is a Top 100 doubles player, so she might still be key to the process. Allertova’s 2017 has also been mainly disappointing, racking up a record of 0-6 against Top 100 opponents this year so far, but her best tennis is definitely worthwhile.
My Predictions
Vondrousova def. Vandeweghe
Rogers def. Siniakova
Siniakova def. Vandeweghe
Rogers def. Vondrousova
Mattek-Sands/Vandeweghe def. Kr.Pliskova/Siniakova
USA wins 3-2

Belarus – Switzerland

Belarus hosts the Swiss in Minsk on indoor hard, still having to deal with the absence of Viktoria Azarenka. Home team is led by Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who will try to retain her form from the Biel semifinals, playing on the same surface. Sasnovich won two rubbers against the Netherlands, and will definitely be the biggest threat to Switzerland. 18 year-old Aryna Sabalenka, who completed the win over Netherlands, is again the Belarussian No. 2, both players hoping to gather their Fed Cup spirit and repeat the upset from last time. The doubles team will be Olga Govortsova and Vera Lapko, both players ranked within the Top 200 in doubles, but also very capable singles players. Switzerland got together the best possible team, their No. 1 being Timea Bacsinszky. Viktorija Golubic was picked over Belinda Bencic for the No. 2 spot, mostly due to Bencic’s recent form. Bencic is set to play doubles with Martina Hingis, but Hingis actually played a warm-up tournament with Timea Bacsinszky in Biel, reaching the final together. Golubic is also a solid doubles player and could play with Hingis.
My Predictions
Sasnovich def. Golubic
Bacsinszky def. Sabalenka
Bacsinszky def. Sasnovich
Golubic def. Sabalenka
Switzerland wins 3-1

World Group Play-Offs

France – Spain

Despite the fact that the French federation threatened their players with bans, injured Caroline Garcia and Oceane Dodin are not playing this tie. The only French Top 20 player Kristina Mladenovic is the No. 1, and Yannick Noah nominated Pauline Parmentier for the No. 2 spot on Day 1 over the higher ranked Alize Cornet. There doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why, as both players have had similar results, but it may be because Parmentier’s game fits the indoor clay better. Completing the quartet is Amandine Hesse in case of injury or dead rubber. Spain is very dependent on their two main stars- Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro. It is made painfully clear when neither attends the tie, like in this case. Lara Arruabarrena also opted out of the tie, so World No. 82 Sara Sorribes Tormo will be the No. 1. No. 2 is the established but declining clay court player Silvia Soler-Espinosa, who will try to summon some of her past greatness for this Fed Cup tie. No. 265 Olga Saez Larra has also made herself available for the tie, and is projected to play doubles alongside the No. 33 in doubles, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
My Predictions
Mladenovic def. Soler-Espinosa
Parmentier def. Sorribes Tormo
Mladenovic def. Sorribes Tormo
Spain wins 3-0

Russia – Belgium

Anastasia Myskina put together a team on the stronger side, getting Vesnina and Pavlyuchenkova as her singles players, with the possibility of including Daria Kasatkina on Day 2. 18 year-old Anna Blinkova is also along for the ride. Vesnina was the winner at Indian Wells, and Pavlyuchenkova beat Angelique Kerber to win Monterrey, being in great form. However, the tie in Luzhinki is on indoor clay, so Kasatkina who just won Charleston may have been a better choice. The Belgian squad is weakened by the absences of Yanina Wickmayer and Kirsten Flipkens, producing a team of 23 and under players. Elise Mertens and Alison Van Uytvanck are playing the singles, while the former Ukranian Maryna Zanevska and mostly doubles specialist An-Sophie Mestach.
My Predictions
Vesnina def. Van Uytvanck
Mertens def. Pavlyuchenkova
Vesnina def. Mertens
Kasatkina def. Van Uytvanck
Russia wins 3-1

Germany – Ukraine

Germans are hosting Ukraine in Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, the same venue where the tournament will be played next week. World No. 1 Angelique Kerber has come, trying to get some match play before Stuttgart which is something this tie should give her. Julia Goerges has been nominated as the No. 2 over the higher ranked Laura Siegemund, mostly because of the way Goerges’ style condraticts Svitolina. It is however expected that Siegemund would play the No. 2 rubber on Day 2, making Goerges available for doubles. Carina Witthoeft has also been nominated. Elina Svitolina will lead the Ukranian team as the No. 1, Lesia Tsurenko seconding her in singles. Kateryna Bondarenko chose to play Stuttgart qualifying instead, so despite being on-site, she won’t be able to play Fed Cup. Instead Olga Savchuk and Nadiia Kichenok will be the doubles options.
My Predictions
Svitolina def. Goerges
Kerber def. Tsurenko
Svitolina def. Kerber
Siegemund def. Tsurenko
Goerges/Kerber def. Savchuk/Svitolina
Germany wins 3-2

Slovakia – Netherlands

The Slovak team has been strongly weakened by Dominika Cibulkova suffering a wrist injury while training with the team, now having to be replaced by Daniela Hantuchova. This means that Kristina Kucova is the highest ranked player, but the captain Matej Liptak chose Jana Cepelova and Rebecca Sramkova for the singles on the fast indoor clay in Bratislava on Day 1. Cepelova and Kucova are projected as the doubles team, but it is likely that Kucova would be replaced by Hantuchova, a player that possesses far more doubles prowess. The Netherlands have their strongest team in Bratislava, led by World No. 20 Kiki Bertens, who has also had doubts surrounding her start in the tie. Richel Hogenkamp, Cindy Burger and Arantxa Rus are all competing for the No. 2 spot, but it has been given to Hogenkamp at least for the opening rubber.
My Predictions*
Cepelova def. Hogenkamp
Sramkova def. Bertens
Bertens def. Cepelova
Sramkova def. Hogenkamp
Slovakia wins 3-1
*(Let it be known that the author of the article is a Slovak native, which may affect my predictions)

Honorable Mention: Romania – Great Britain

Despite it being a Play-Off tie for the World Group II, Romania versus Great Britain definitely deserves a mention in this Fed Cup preview piece. Not only it features one of the most tennis nations in the World, but also 2 Top 10 players in Simona Halep and Johanna Konta. Romania took a risk and put the tie on outdoor clay in Constanta, Romania, where the temperatures are not expected to rise above 15 degrees Celsius this weekend. Romania put forth their strongest team, with Halep and Begu in the singles, backed up by Monica Niculescu, No. 23 doubles player, and Sorana Cirstea. Great Britain is led by World No. 7 Konta, who will be seconded by Heather Watson, as Naomi Broady chose to play Stuttgart qualifying instead. Laura Robson and Jocelyn Rae are the projected doubles team.
My Predictions
Halep def. Watson
Konta def. Begu
Halep def. Konta
Begu def. Watson
Romania wins 3-1

Fed Cup

Great Britain To Play Billie Jean King Cup Finals After Glasgow Picked As Host Nation

The UK will stage the finale of the women’s biggest team tennis event for the first time in over 30 years.

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The International Tennis Federation has selected Glasgow as the host nation of this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals following a successful bid from the British LTA.

 

A total of 12 nations will participate in the six-day event which will be held between November 8-13 at the Emirates Arena. A facility originally built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games that has since staged various events, including Davis Cup ties. It has a seating capacity of roughly just over 8000 people. This year’s finals will be held on indoor hardcourts.

It is only the fourth time Britain has staged the finals of the tournament which was previously known as the Fed Cup. It was previously held in London 1963, Eastbourne 1977 and Nottingham 1991.

“We are delighted to be bringing the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals to Glasgow. The LTA presented a very impressive bid as part of a competitive hosting process. They have successfully hosted Davis Cup ties in Glasgow, and we look forward to having the women’s World Cup of Tennis take place in front of passionate tennis fans from around the world in an electric atmosphere, at the culmination of the women’s tennis season.” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement.

Great Britain automatically qualifies for the final as they are the hosts. They will be joined by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland and USA. The format of the round-robin event will see the teams split into four groups of three. The will of each group will then progress to the knockout stages.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build the profile of women’s tennis and focus attention on women’s sport. The entire team are very excited about playing in front of a home crowd and hearing some loud support across the whole week.” British captain Anne Keothavong commented.

The Russian Tennis Federation won the tournament last year but they will not be allowed to participate this year. Russian and Belarussian teams have been suspended from taking part in ITF team events as the result of the Ukraine war. Russia launched a ‘special military’ operation on February 24th and Belarus is suspected of supporting them.

The draw for the Billie Jean King Cup finals will take place at a later date.

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Fed Cup

Emma Raducanu Believes Clay Could Be ‘One Of Her Strongest’ Surfaces

The world No.12 is yet to play a Tour event on the clay but she has high hopes for the future.

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Emma Raducanu reacts during a Women's Singles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

US Open champion Emma Raducanu may still be relatively new to the WTA Tour but she believes the upcoming clay swing could help provide her with the foundations to shine on the surface.

 

Raducanu, who made her WTA debut last June, is yet to play a Tour event on the clay. In fact, she has never played a senior event of any kind on the surface. However, during her junior event she played in nine clay tournaments between 2016-2018, including the 2018 girls French Open where she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson.

Despite her lack of experience, the Brit remains confident that she will be able to thrive on the surface. Speaking to reporters ahead of her country’s Billie Jean Cup tie with the Czech Republic, which will take place on clay, Raducanu believes her love for sliding on the court will help her in the coming years.

“I feel this could be one of my strongest surfaces going forward but of course it’s early days right now,” she said.
“I feel like I have got a lot more potential physically. And I do enjoy sliding. So, after spending more time on this surface, I’m sure I’ll time it better and learn more about the surface but also just the time that the clay brings. I feel like I can really use it and play aggressive.”

Since her breakthrough run at the US Open last September, Raducanu has struggled to maintain her form with a series of disappointing results. So far this season the rising star has managed to win just two out of seven matches played. Four out of her five losses were to players ranked outside the world’s top 50.

Part of the problem for the 19-year-old has been her own body. She has suffered from a hip injury which forced her to retire from a match in Mexico earlier this year and has also been hindered by blisters. Furthermore, Raducanu revealed that she has also lost all of her toenails. Prompting British team captain Anne Keothavong to joke that everybody is ‘a little bit scared’ by her toes.

I have no toenails,” Raducanu stated.
“It was just my foot, my shoes, they’ve just been sliding around a lot [in the shoe].
“I had a small niggle in Miami but now I have no physical thing.”

Raducanu will be hoping to lead her country to victory in their Billie Jean King Cup tie which will be held in Prague. It will be the first time she has ever played in the event.

“I love playing as a team, especially the team we’ve got here,” she said.
“I feel like everyone has been a lot of fun and there’s been a great connection off court, whether that’s playing murder mystery games or cornhole, we’re definitely bonding and gelling very well.”

Raducanu is the only top 20 player participating in the tie.

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Fed Cup

Great Britain Handed Tough Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers Draw Against Czech Republic

Great Britain have a tough test in the Czech Republic in the BJK Cup qualifiers in April.

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British Billie Jean King Cup Team (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Great Britain will need to beat the Czech Republic away if they want to qualify for next year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals after the draw was made today.

 

Anne Keothavong’s team beat Mexico earlier in the year to earn a place in the qualifiers next year.

However in today’s draw, Great Britain will need to overcome a huge test as they will go to the Czech Republic next April.

Czech Republic have won six of the last nine Billie Jean King Cups and boast the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Krejcikova, Marketa Vondrousova, Katarina Siniakova and Petra Kvitova.

Speaking after the draw Keothavong is looking forward to the test that awaits them in April, “The team are really looking forward to taking on Czech Republic in our 2022 qualifier and hopefully continuing our momentum in the Billie Jean King Cup next year,” she told skysports.com.

The Czechs are currently hosting this year’s finals and fell at the semi-final stage after losing a tight match to Switzerland.

Other key matches sees a repeat of this year’s group stage match between Belgium and Belarus while USA will host Elina Svitolina’s Ukraine team.

Here are the ties with the qualifiers taking place on the 15-16th of April next year with the finals happening next November:

Czech Republic v Great Britain

Australia v Slovakia

France v Italy

USA v Ukraine

Belarus v Belgium

Germany v Kazakhstan

Canada v Latvia

Spain v Netherlands

https://twitter.com/BJKCup/status/1456980259119767555

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