Trio Of Grand Slam Champions Set To Play Fed Cup Semis, But Not The Williams Sisters - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup

Trio Of Grand Slam Champions Set To Play Fed Cup Semis, But Not The Williams Sisters

It is set to be a star-studded weekend regardless of the two notable absentees

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Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

The nominations for the upcoming Fed Cup semi-finals took place on Wednesday with a series of top 20 players confirming their intentions to play.

Later this month Germany will face the Czech Republic on home territory at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart. Venue of the annual Stuttgart Open, which is a WTA Premier event. Germany is bidding to reach the final for the first time since 2013 and only the second time in the past 20 years. Heading their team is two-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber. She will be joined by Julia Goerges, Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Tatjana Maria.

“I am convinced that we have the quality to reach the final,” German captain Jens Gerlach said in reference to Goerges and Kerber. “They are in such good form that they can beat the best players in the world.”

Standing in Germany’s way is a strong Czech team. The country has won the Fed Cup title 10 times, including three out of the past four years. Top 10 players Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova are set to feature in the tie. Along with world No.26 Barbora Strycova.

“The team is strong but we are facing a strong opponent,” Czech captain Petr Pala said in a Facebook post. “The tie will definitely be great for the audience and tough for both teams.”

In the other semi-final, France will host defending champions America. The American contingent will be without both of the Williams sisters, who have both confirmed their absence. Earlier this year in the competition the two paired up in a doubles match against the Netherlands, losing in straight sets. It was Serena’s first competitive match (beside exhibition events) since  giving birth.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens will be hoping to guide her country to another final. Also nominated for the upcoming tie is Madison Keys, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe. Stephens and Vandeweghe both played in last year’s final.

France will be without two key players. Caroline Garcia is skipping the event to focus on her singles career. Meanwhile, Alize Cornet is currently ineligible during to an ongoing anti-doping hearing. Cornet is being investigated for missing three doping tests within a 12-month period. As a consequence Kristina Mladenovic, Pauline Parmentier and Amandine Hesse will make up the team.

The Fed Cup semi-finals will take place between April 21-22.

Fed Cup

Draw For 2019 Fed Cup Announced With Team Size Set To Increase

The tournament will get underway in February.

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The schedule for next year’s Fed Cup competition has been announced with more players allowed to play for their country in the tournament.

ITF president Davis Haggerty has confirmed that the size of teams will be increased to a maximum of five players. Although the format of the competition will remain unchanged. World Group I and II will have eight teams participating in each category. The winners of the Group II ties are promoted to a play-off stage where they will take of the quarter-finals losers in Group I for a chance to be promoted to the highest category.

“The ITF Board and the Fed Cup committee has approved that we will expand the teams to five players. Which will be great for the captains and for more players to be able to compete for their nation.” Haggerty said during the draw ceremony.

Six out of the eight nations in the top group are from Europe. In the first round, referred to as the quarter-finals in the competition, 2017 champions America will host Australia. Two years ago Team USA scored a comprehensive 4-0 triumphed over their Australian rivals. The Czech Republic will host Romania in what will be only their third meeting in the history of the tournament. Belgium faces a tough test at home against France and Germany will lock horns with Belarus.

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In World Group II, Switzerland will take on Italy in what will be only the second clash between the two countries and the first since 1977. Latvia will host their first ever Fed Cup tie against Slovenia. Meanwhile, Japan will take on Spain and the Netherlands hosts Canada.

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The dates for next year is that the first round matches will take place between February 9th-10th. In April the second round as well as playoffs will occur on 20th and 21st followed by the final in November (9th-10th).

Unlike the Davis Cup, there has been little talk about revamping the Fed Cup. Next month a vote will take place on transforming the men’s team tournament where the finals could be held in a neutral venue. Diving opinion amongst players. Earlier this year the head of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Giudicelli, said talks are underway to increase the number of teams competing in the top level tiers of the Fed Cup. A motion the could be put forward at the upcoming ITF AGM meeting.

This year’s Fed Cup final will be between the Czech Republic and the USA.

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Fed Cup

Fed Cup Set To Be Expanded In Proposed Reform, Says French Tennis Chief

A motion to change the women’s team event is likly to get underway next year.

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The head of the French Tennis Federation has said plans to reform the Fed Cup will be submitted later this year.

Bernard Giudicelli told reporters over the weekend that the team competition is set to undergo changes in 2019. The revelation follows plans to reform the Davis Cup, which is yet to be approved. The ITF wants to change the format of the men’s tournament to a weeklong competition taking place at a neutral venue. A motion that has split the sport.

“The reform is on the way and the project will probably be rubber-stamped at Roland Garros (May 27-June 10) and submitted to the International Tennis Federation General Assembly (in August),” Giudicelli said during France’s Fed Cup tie against the USA.

It is yet to be confirmed as to what the changes to the Fed Cup will be, but the most likely adjustment will be to the size of world group. The top tier of the competition currently only features eight teams. Something that was first introduced back in 1995. It is unclear as to how many more teams will be added, but the Davis Cup world group is currently 16. Although that number would increase to 18 if the ITF proposals are passed later this year.

“The purpose of the reform is to favour more teams in the World Group.” Giudicelli confirmed without elaborating further.

The planned revamp of the Davis Cup has received high-profile financial backing of Kosmos. An investment firm founded by Barcelona F.C. footballer Gerald Pique. They have already pledged a $3 billion investment over 25 years if the plan goes ahead. Giudicelli has also indicated that financial interest have also been shown in the Fed Cup by unnamed parties. Although this does not mean that the competition could go through the same radical changes.

“Investors have shown interest in the Fed Cup. I think they have shown an interest in supporting the international federation and giving it the means to organise competitions that have a real impact,” he said.

The ITF is yet to publicly speak about any planned changes to the Fed Cup.

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Fed Cup

Petra Kvitova Guides The Czech Republic To Fed Cup Showdown With America

The European nation will have the chance to end their 23-year losting streak against their American rivals in November.

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The Czech Republic will play in their sixth Fed Cup final in eight years following a dominant 4-1 win over Germany at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.

After winning both of their singles matches on Saturday, the Czech team was given a run for their money by their opponents on day two. In the opening match Julia Goerges revived German chances with a 6-4, 6-2, triumph over world No.6 Karolina Pliskova. Producing a total of eight aces and 26 winners in the match.

German hopes were dashed in the match that followed Goerges’ win. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova held her nerve to edge out Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2, in just 58 minutes. Heading into the encounter the two players were level in their head-to-head at 5-5, but their latest meeting was one-way traffic in Kvitova’s favour. Kvitova produced a total of 31 winners compared to her rivals tally of only seven.

“I am very relieved. I was getting nervous before this game,” Kvitova told AFP news.“We had a great position from yesterday, I think Julia played a really good match.
“I knew we still needed one point from our last two games and I just did my best.”

The mood of the home team worsened further in the final match. The Czech duo of Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova was leading 7-5 in their doubles match before their rivals, Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, retired injured.

“It will take a while to get over it,” Kerber commented about the result of the tie. “We all know that was a great opportunity for us,” she added.

The Czech Republic will be bidding to win the team tournament for the 11th time. They are the second most successful team in the history of the competition in terms of trophies won.

America awaits

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Facing the Czech team in the final will be reigning champions the USA. Taking on France in their semifinal clash, they managed to prevail by winning both of their Sunday matches in the singles after being tamed at 1-1 on the opening day of the tie.

Sloane Stephens got the ball rolling with a 6-2, 6-0, thrashing of Kristina Mladenovic. The US Open champion was in an unforgiving mood as she dictated play from the onset. Converting five of her six break point chances and capitalising on Mladenovic’s below-par second service rate of 38%.

“That was a really good one. You never anticipate a scoreline like the way it turned out but it was really solid,” Stephens evaluated about her performance.

The unassailable lead for America was then clinched by Madison Keys. Despite some stern resistance by world No.122 Pauline Parmentier, the 23-year-old battled to a 7-6(4), 6-4 lead. Saving eight out of the 11 break points she faced.

“I was really nervous – I wanted to be the one who got the winning point. I was so sad I couldn’t play in the final last year because of my wrist injury.” Keys told fedcup.com. “Fed Cup is special. It captures the extremes of highs and lows in tennis. It takes me days to recover from a Fed Cup loss, whereas with a normal match within a day you’re bouncing back – but the wins are incredible.”

A chance for revenge

Historically, America has been a nightmare competitor for the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup. They have clashed 12 times since 1980 with the American’s winning 10 of those, including one last year. The last time the European nation triumphed was when they played under the name of Czechoslovakia back in 1985.

“Every time it feels exciting and we are happy to be in the final.” Said Kvitova. “Maybe I (would prefer to play) France, USA you never know they have some great players but any team that is in the final has great players.”

American team captain Kathy Rinaldi now has the chance to guide her country to back-to-back titles for the first time since 2000. America is already the most decorated team in the Fed Cup with 18 trophies to their name.

“The girls did so well, both today and yesterday. We are very fortunate to have such a strong group and now we are looking forward to what is going to be a great final,” U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said.

The Czech Republic will host the final in November at a yet to be confirmed venue.

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