(February 6, 2015) The United States will face Argentina in the Fed Cup World Group II First Round on an outdoor red clay court at the Pilara Tennis Club in Buenos Aires. Play begins Saturday at 11:00 am local time (9:00 am ET).
Opening the tie will be world No. 11 and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and world No. 121 Paula Ormaechea. Venus comes to Argentina after reaching the Australian Open quarterfinal, her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010. She holds a 19-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition (15-2 in singles), last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach, Fla. She was also a member of the Fed Cup title-winning team in 1999. She has been ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles.
“I love the game, competition and everything about tennis,” Venus said in Friday’s draw ceremony. “It is a pleasure to be here and represent the U.S.”
“Paula is a great girl and a great player. We have practiced a few times together. I have a lot of respect for her and it will be a good match between us.”
Ormaechaea has competed in 12 Fed Cup ties for Argentina, holding an 11-7 singles record. She peaked at No. 59 in the world in October 2013 and has reached the third round of the French Open twice (in 2013 and 2014). Venus and Ormaechea have faced each other once on the WTA Tour – in the 2013 French Open, where Venus won, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
The second match on Saturday features world No. 1 and 2015 Australian Open champion Serena Williams and world No. 197 Maria Irigoyen. Serena holds a perfect 10-0 singles record in Fed Cup competition, last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach to propel the U.S. back into the World Group last year. She also helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title. Williams has now won 19 Grand Slam titles along with the Olympic gold medal in singles and women’s doubles, with sister Venus, at the 2012 Games in London. Irigoyen has competed in 16 Fed Cup ties for Argentina, making her debut in 2008, and holds a 3-5 singles record in Fed Cup play. Irigoyen won her first WTA doubles title last year in Rio de Janeiro and has ranked as high as No. 155 in the world in singles and No. 83 in doubles. Serena and Irigoyen have never faced each other.
“It feels good to be in Argentina,” Serena said. “It is a change from Australia because we were on hard courts and now we are on clay. I love the clay. We are all trying to get our feet used to the surface, but the whole team feels really good. I am really excited to be playing here for my team.”
“I’ve played in some cozy, small stadiums around the world, including the Ukraine in Fed Cup. It’s a great chance for fans and people to come here to get up close to the tennis. I am excited to play for them.”
“I have been here with Venus before and we had a wonderful time. We had the opportunity to play with some kids with disabilities during our last visit and had fun playing with them. The city is really nice and we did a lot of shopping and touring and it was a wonderful experience. It is great to be back.”
This tie marks the first time that the U.S. Fed Cup Team has played in Argentina, as it has previously played them on home and neutral ground. This will mark the fifth matchup between the U.S. and Argentina in Fed Cup competition, where the United States holds a 3-1 record over Argentina. The U.S. is 8-11 in away ties since the World Group format was in instituted in 1995 and holds an overall 143-35 record.
“We are looking forward to this weekend,” said US Fed Cup captain MaryJoe Fernandez . We had a good week of practice, the club is fantastic, and the courts are in great shape. Obviously it is a big transition for Venus and Serena coming from Australia and changing the surface, but everyone is ready and looking good. We are ready to compete.”
The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 18-19, to compete for a spot in the 2016 World Group. The losing nation will play in the World Group II Playoff in April to remain in World Group II in 2016. The U.S. will compete in World Group II in 2015 for just the second time since the World Group format was instituted in 1995 (the U.S. competed in the World Group II in 2012).
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 99 nations taking part in 2015. The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000.