February 11, 2016

Draws Announced for 2016 Fed Cup Play-offs

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(February 6, 2016)The ITF has announced the draws for the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group and World Group II play-offs on 16-17 April:

 

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

 

Russia [s] [c] [*] v Belarus
Spain [c] v Italy [s]
Romania [c] [*] v Germany [s]
Australia [s] [c] [*] v USA

WORLD GROUP II PLAY-OFFS

 

Serbia [s] [c] v Belgium
Slovakia [c] v Canada [s]
Poland [s] [c] [*] v Chinese Taipei
Ukraine [c] v Argentina [s]

[s] = seed

[c] = choice of ground

[*] = choice of ground decided by lot

 

The seeds were based on the new ITF Fed Cup Nations Ranking of 8 February.

 

The 2016 World Group and World Group II play-offs will take place alongside the World Group semifinals on 16-17 April. In the semifinals, Switzerland will be at home to Czech Republic, and France will be at home to Netherlands.

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Fed Cup World Group II R1: Belarus fends off spirited fight from Canada

Françoise Abanda

Françoise Abanda

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin

(February 7, 2016) QUEBEC CITY – It came down to the finish line, but Belarus pulled off the 3-2 win against Canada in their Fed Cup World Group II first round encounter played in Quebec City. Starting the day tied at one, Françoise Abanda gave an early 2-1 lead to the host team, before Aliaksandra Sasnovich won her second match of the week to force a deciding doubles match. The local duo of Gabriela Dabrowski and Carol Zhao then lost to more-experienced Sasnovich and Olga Govortsova to send Belarus into the World Group I play-offs. It was Zhao’s first ever match in Fed Cup.

While Canada is technically ranked higher in the ITF nations ranking, Belarus started off the weekend as clear favorites, despite the last minute withdrawal of their top player Victoria Azarenka. Both Govortsova and Sasnovich are ranked in the top 100 of the WTA rankings, while Canada had no players ranked in the top 300. Nevertheless, Aleksandra Wozniak, a former top 30 player coming back from injury, and Françoise Abanda, a former junior top 5 player, both have had inspired Fed Cup performances in the past.

First up were Govorstova and Abanda. Right from the start, Govortsova, showed better form than in her loss yesterday to Wozniak. The Belarussian would take control of the points early, keep Abanda on the move and finish off at the net, a fruitful strategy which gave her an early 4-2 lead. But errors then started to creep in, while Abanda took advantage of weaker second serves. The Canadian reeled off the last four games and won all eleven points on the Belarussian’s second serve to get the first set 6-4.

A similar story happened in the second set, when Abanda again came back from a 2-4 deficit to win 6-4, hitting spectacular winners, especially on the backhand side. After the match, the Canadian was especially proud to keep her aggressive tennis with a lower unforced error count, which was her downfall on Saturday. “I have an aggressive game, but my goal after yesterday was to cut down on the errors. I was calmer, more serene and more confident.” Her final stats were impressive, hitting 31 winners to 27 unforced errors, a notable improvement from her 43 errors from Saturday.

Asked about their similar game style, Govortsova agreed: “She seemed to like my game; she was comfortable with my shots. She would hit just as hard as I did.” Coming back from injury and having played only one match since October, Govortsova confirmed she was now healthy, but wasn’t feeling match tough: “I feel like I didn’t close out so many games. I haven’t played enough matches recently.” The Belarussian played herself a pretty clean match with even numbers of winners and unforced errors (24), but really struggled with her serve, hitting 9 doubles faults and getting broken six times.

All eyes were now focused on Aleksandra Wozniak to wrap up the win for the host nation. Playing in her 50th Fed Cup match, the Canadian gave a stellar performance on Saturday to defeat Govortsova and had experience on her side against 21-year-old Sasnovich. Both players started off the match solidly on their serve, as the first nine games were won by the server. Up 5-4, Sasnovich then requested a medical time out for what seemed like pain in her left thigh. This seemed to break Wozniak’s serving rhythm, as she started off with a double fault. Few points later, the feisty Sasnovich would wrap up the set 6-4.

This seemed to start a series of serving woes for both players, as four breaks decided the first seven games of the second set. Down 4-3, Wozniak saved four break points to level at 4-4 to the delight of the crowd, who could sense a possible comeback. But Sasnovich, who had lengthily discussed the emotional importance of playing for her country all week, played spirited tennis to hold easily and fend off a game point on Wozniak’s serve to wrap up the match 6-4, 6-4 on a forehand return winner.

The final doubles match was played between Gabriela Dabrowski, the top ranked doubles player in Canada, and her partner Carol Zhao, a top NCAA player, against Govortsova and Sasnovich, who was sent in last minute after her inspired play of the weekend. Right away, the Belarussians showed that they were more powerful off the ground, attacking the Canadians from all corners of the court. More crafty, both Dabrowski and Zhao tried to vary their shots and strategies, but too often were stuck with incomplete volleys. The duo from Belarus took an early 3-0 lead and never looked back, winning the set 6-2.

The different strategy from the Canadians started paying off in the second set, where they started serving better and finishing off more volleys. Despite going down an early break, the local pair stayed with the Belarussians until the end, when Sasnovich, the star of the weekend, served for the match and the tie at 5-4. Solid, as she was in her three matches, she served it easily, giving her country the win.

Belarus will now be looking to book a spot in the World Group I for the first time since the change in structure in 2005. On the other hand, Canada will go back to defending their slot in the World Group II for the first time since 2013. Both ties will be played on April 16-17; draws and venues should be announced later this week.

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Fed Cup Results

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(February 7, 2016) Sunday’s results for the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group and World Group II first round ties taking place on 6-7 February.

 

In the World Group semifinals, on 16-17 April, Switzerland will be at home to Czech Republic, while France will host Netherlands.

 

Australia, Belarus, Spain and USA, the four winners in World Group II, have qualified for the World Group play-offs on 16-17 April, where they will be joined by the four World Group first round losers, Italy, Germany, Romania and Russia.

 

Argentina, Belgium, Chinese Taipei and Ukraine, who all qualified from their respective Zone Group I events on Saturday, will contest the World Group II play-offs on 16-17 April, where they will be joined by the four World Group II losers, Canada, Serbia, Slovakia and Spain.

 

The draw for the World Group play-offs and World Group II play-offs will be held at the ITF offices in London on Tuesday 9 February at 12:00 GMT. The seeds will be based on the new Fed Cup Nations Ranking of Monday 8 February.

 

WORLD GROUP FIRST ROUND

 

CZECH REPUBLIC defeated ROMANIA 3-2

Venue: Sala Polivalenta Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, ROU (hard – indoor)

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. Simona Halep (ROU) 67(4) 64 62

Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 63 64

Simona Halep (ROU) d. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 64 36 63

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 64 46 63

Karolina Pliskova/Barbora Strycova (CZE) d. Andreea Mitu/Raluca Olaru (ROU) 62 63

 

SWITZERLAND defeated GERMANY 3-2

Venue: Leipziger Messe, Leipzig, GER (hard – indoor)

Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. Andrea Petkovic (GER) 63 64

Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 61 63

Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. Angelique Kerber (GER) 76(4) 63

Annika Beck (GER) d. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 75 64

Martina Hingis/Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Andrea Petkovic (GER) 63 62

 

FRANCE defeated ITALY 4-1

Venue: Palais des Sports de Marseille, Marseille, FRA (hard – indoor)

Camila Giorgi (ITA) d. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 16 64 61

Caroline Garcia (FRA) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 63 75

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 76(4) 61

Caroline Garcia (FRA) d. Camila Giorgi (ITA) 63 64

Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. Martina Caregaro/Sara Errani (ITA) 60 61

 

NETHERLANDS defeated RUSSIA 3-1

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Moscow, RUS (hard – indoor)

Kiki Bertens (NED) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 63 64

Richel Hogenkamp (NED) d. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 76(4) 57 108

Kiki Bertens (NED) d. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 61 64

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) v Richel Hogenkamp (NED) – not played

Darya Kasatkina/Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Cindy Burger/Arantxa Rus (NED) 60 62

 

WORLD GROUP II FIRST ROUND

 

AUSTRALIA defeated SLOVAKIA 3-2

Venue: Aegon Arena, National Tennis Centre, Bratislava, SVK (hard – indoor)

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) d. Arina Rodionova (AUS) 57 75 60

Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Jana Cepelova (SVK) 63 64

Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 76(5) 75

Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Kimberly Birrell (AUS) 63 61

Casey Dellacqua/Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Jana Cepelova/Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 57 61 62

 

BELARUS defeated CANADA 3-2

Venue: PEPS, Québec City, CAN (hard – indoor)

Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) d. Francoise Abanda (CAN) 64 26 63

Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) d. Olga Govortsova (BLR) 62 62

Francoise Abanda (CAN) d. Olga Govortsova (BLR) 64 64

Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 64 64

Olga Govortsova/Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) d. Gabriela Dabrowski/Carol Zhao (CAN) 62 64

 

USA defeated POLAND 4-0

Venue: Holua Tennis Center, Kailua Kona, USA (hard – outdoor)

Sloane Stephens (USA) d. Magda Linette (POL) 62 64

Venus Williams (USA) d. Paula Kania (POL) 75 62

Venus Williams (USA) d. Magda Linette (POL) 61 62

Sloane Stephens (USA) v Paula Kania (POL) – not played

Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Coco Vandeweghe (USA) d. Klaudia Jans-Ignacik/Paula Kania (POL) 61 75

 

SPAIN defeated SERBIA 4-0

Venue: Kraljevo Sports Centre, Kraljevo, SRB (hard – indoor)

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) d. Ivana Jorovic (SRB) 63 61

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) d. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 64 62

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) d. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 63 64

Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) v Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) – not played

Lara Arruabarrena/Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) d. Ivana Jorovic/Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 46 76(6) [10-7]

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USA Defeats Poland in Fed Cup World Group II

 

(February 7, 2016) The United States is now one step closer to competing in the World Group next year by sweeping Poland, 4-0, in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round at the Holua Tennis Center at Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, today.

 

In Sunday’s first match of the day in windy conditions, world No. 12 Venus Williams cruised past world No. 96 Magda Linette, 6-1, 6-2, in one hour and one minute to clinch the victory for the United States. Williams and Linette had never faced each other on the WTA Tour. Williams is now 19-2 in Fed Cup singles play, while Linette is 1-5. The Sloane Stephens-Paula Kania match was not played.

“This has been the most enthusiastic crowd I’ve ever played in front of, for Fed Cup, or even at home,” Williams said. “The enthusiasm, exciting. When they announced they were going to play the doubles, the crowd was so excited. You can hear them right now.

“It’s just been a pleasure to play for that.

“I love playing. I love looking forward to playing the next ties, seeing who we’re going to play when the draw comes out. I love all of that.

“I think I had a little bit of an advantage today because Sloane had a chance to play against Magda, so had a nice scouting report. I was able to really get started quickly. I think she did a little of the work beforehand for me. I kind of like had the heads-up.”

In the dead doubles rubber, CoCo Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands faced playing captain Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Paula Kania, who substituted for Alicja Rosolska. In the end, Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands won their match, 6-1, 7-5, in one hour and 15 minutes. Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands were playing together for the first time and Vandeweghe had beat Mattek-Sands in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Australian Open mixed doubles tournament last month. Vandeweghe is now 2-0 in Fed Cup doubles play, also playing in a dead doubles rubber last year with Taylor Townsend in the World Group II First Round in Argentina, while Mattek-Sands is 4-0 in doubles, last playing Fed Cup doubles in the 2010 World Group Semifinal against Russia. Jans-Ignacik is now 20-10 in Fed Cup doubles play, while Kania is 1-2.

“We just played our game,” said Mattek-Sands. “We kept playing aggressive, closing the net. That’s how we won the first set. We’re prepared for our opponents to step up and play better. Maybe have a little less pressure on them in the second and go for a few shots.

“I think it’s business as usual. We had our game plan and we stuck to it.”

“There’s ebbs and flows to every match,” said Vandeweghe. “It’s how you weather the storm for their good play and also adjusting to your own play. At times Bethanie and I were playing in sync, and at times we weren’t. This is the first time we ever played together. I think we have to take that into account as well.

“But I think we adjusted well right after the break, showing our dominance and presence again, basically dominating their serves right back.”

The U.S. is now 21-0 when leading 2-0 after the first day of play (since the World Group format was instituted in 1995), 38-6 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home, and holds an overall 145-36 record.

 

Fed Cup is the world’s largest annual international team competition in women’s sport with approximately 100 nations taking part each year. The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000.

 

ORDER OF PLAY AND RESULTS

 

DAY/LOCAL TIME      MATCH             PAIRING

Saturday, 11:00 a.m.       Singles A:              Sloane Stephens (USA) def. Magda Linette (POL), 6-2, 6-4

Singles B:             Venus Williams (USA) def. Paula Kania (POL), 7-5, 6-2

Sunday, 10:00 a.m.         Singles C:             Venus Williams (USA) def. Magda Linette (POL) 6-1, 6-2

Singles D:             Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Paula Kania (POL)  not played

Doubles:               Bethanie Mattek-Sands/CoCo Vandeweghe (USA)

def. Klaudia Jans-Ignacik/Paula Kania (POL) 6-1, 7-5

 

The United States advances to the World Group Playoffs, held April 16-17, to compete for a spot in the 2017 World Group. Poland will play in the World Group II Playoffs in April to remain in World Group II in 2017.

 

The draw for the World Group Playoffs will be held this Tuesday, February 9. The U.S. will face one of the losers of World Group I – Romania, Germany, Italy, and Russia. Below are the home-away scenarios.

– Romania (coin toss)

– Germany (home tie)

– Italy (home tie)

– Russia (away tie)

 

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Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens Give USA 2-0 Lead Over Poland in Fed Cup

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(February 6, 2016) After the first day of play, the United States leads Poland, 2-0, in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round played on outdoor hard court at the Holua Tennis Center at Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village.

 

The U.S. is 20-0 when leading 2-0 after the first day of play (since the World Group format was instituted in 1995). The U.S. is 37-6 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home.

 

In the first singles match of the day, Sloane Stephens, the United States’ No. 2 singles player, defeated Poland’s No. 1 player Magda Linette, 6-2, 6-4, in one hour and 13 minutes. Stephens trailed, 0-4, in the second set before making a comeback and winning the set.

“I definitely had a little fart there at the beginning of the second set, but I regrouped well and I was happy that I was able to play some solid tennis towards the end,” Stephens said.

“It happens, so all I can really take from that is that I tried my butt off and never gave up. That’s all that really counts.

“I kind of just ran out of gas. Needed some sugar. I had some caffeine and a little taste of a bar and I felt better. I got my energy back up and I was kind of bouncing around again and I felt good. So I think that definitely helped a little bit.

Stephens and Linette had met once on the WTA Tour last year in Washington D.C., where Stephens went on to win her first career WTA title. Stephens is now 2-2 in singles in Fed Cup, while Linette is 1-4.

In the second singles match, former world No. 1 Venus Williams defeated world No. 153 Paula Kania, 7-5, 6-2, in one hour and 12 minutes. Williams and Kania had previously met once on the WTA Tour in 2014 in Stanford, where Williams won 6-3, 6-2. Williams is now 18-2 in singles in Fed Cup. Kania was making her Fed Cup singles debut.

“She had some good shots; she played well; I had a few errors,” Williams said.

“I think I at 5-4 I was actually very relaxed. I think her strengths is playing from behind. I think when she was in front it wasn’t as comfortable for her.

“So just that game, I put some balls in, she missed a few, and at 5-All I probably had more experience than she did.”

“It’s never easy to play Fed Cup because you’re playing for more than yourself. I just get pumped,” said Williams. “The whole crowd is here for you and there’s no other feeling like it in tennis.”

ORDER OF PLAY AND RESULTS

 

DAY/LOCAL TIME      MATCH             PAIRING

Saturday, 11:00 a.m.       Singles A:              Sloane Stephens (USA) def. Magda Linette (POL), 6-2, 6-4

Singles B:             Venus Williams (USA) def. Paula Kania (POL), 7-5, 6-2

Sunday, 10:00 a.m.         Singles C:             Venus Williams (USA) vs. Magda Linette (POL)

Singles D:             Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Paula Kania (POL)

Doubles:               Bethanie Mattek-Sands/CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) vs Klaudia Jans-Ignacik/Alicja Rosolska (POL)

 

Each country’s top singles players will meet on Sunday – Venus Williams (USA) vs. Magda Linette (POL) and Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Paula Kania (POL) – as well as a doubles match pitting CoCo Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) against Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Alicja Rosolska (POL).

 

In Sunday’s first match of the day, Williams will face off against Linette. World No. 12 Williams and world No. 96 Linette have never met on the WTA Tour. The second singles match on Sunday will feature Sloane Stephens and Paula Kania. World No. 25 Stephens and world No. 153 Kania have also never met in WTA competition.

 

Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands are scheduled to take on Rosolska and Jans-Ignacik, who is serving as Poland’s playing captain. Vandeweghe reached the mixed doubles final at this year’s Australian Open and is ranked No. 46 in the world in doubles. Mattek-Sands, ranked No. 6 in the world in doubles, won the 2015 Australian Open and French Open women’s doubles titles with Lucie Safarova and has won 17 career WTA doubles titles overall. Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands have never paired up for a doubles match before. Rosolska and Jans-Ignacik have played doubles together 16 times, the last coming in Fed Cup last year. Rosolska is ranked No. 46 in doubles and has won four WTA doubles titles, while Jans-Ignacik is ranked No. 50 in doubles and has won three WTA doubles titles.

 

The winner of this match advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 16-17, to compete for a spot in the 2017 World Group. The losing nation will play in the World Group II Playoff in April to remain in World Group II in 2017.

 

Fed Cup is the world’s largest annual international team competition in women’s sport with approximately 100 nations taking part each year. The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. The U.S. holds an overall 144-36 record.

 

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Fed Cup Canada vs Belarus: Wozniak does it again

Wozniack 8

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin

(February 6, 2016) QUEBEC CITY – Canada and Belarus will head into Day 2 of their Fed Cup World Group II first round match-up in Quebec City deadlocked at  1-1. After Aliaksandra Sasnovich defeated François Abanda 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, Olga Govortsova failed to followed suit, losing to a resurgent Aleksandra Wozniak 6-2, 6-2.

On paper, a lot separated Abanda, ranked 343rd in the world, to Sasnovich 99th . The Canadian, who had seen her ranking drop dramatically in the past year, had struggled with consistency in 2015. Her game, which is based on power and athletic abilities, can often derail into series of unforced errors due to intensity gaps. Nevertheless, she often played inspired tennis in Fed Cup in the past, seemingly inspired by the exuberant crowds and patriotic aspect of the competition.

Not much separated both players at the start of the first set. As expected, Abanda slipped into the role of the aggressor, moving Sasnovich around with heavy hitting from both sides. The Belarusian, who has had a lot of success in the past on indoor fast surfaces, went for a more conservative approach. After both players traded multiple breaks at the start of the match, Abanda got her first opening when, up 4-3, she was up 15-30 on Sasnovich’s serve. After three loose errors from the Canadian, the Belarussian held for 4-all and never looked back, wrapping up the set 6-4 in 41 minutes.

Abanda’s game seemed to settle in the second set, as she took an early 3-0 lead with more control on her aggressive tennis. On the other side of the net, the Belarusian struggled to move past her passive game style, giving the Canadian time to whip up multiple winners. The story continued until, after 35 minutes, the local player reeled off the last four points on two return winners and two double faults to level the match at one set apiece, winning the second 6-2.

The start of the third set saw both players finding their range simultaneously, giving the crowd higher quality tennis. While Abanda continued to put a lot of pressure on Sasnovich, the Belarusian decided to step up the aggression and move the Canadian around. Both players traded blows until 2-all, when Abanda took at 40-15 lead. Similarly to the first set, the Canadian couldn’t convert multiple game points and gave away a crucial break. This sent the momentum Belarus’ way, and after breaking again at 5-3, Sasnovich gave Belarus a 1-0 lead, concluding the 2-hour affair 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

Asked on what made the difference in such a close match, Sasnovich replied: ”I played for my country, I played for my parents, I played with my heart”. For Abanda, she tried to see the positive in a close defeat to a top 100 player: “It was only a few key pressure points that made the difference. I want to play aggressive and I did. I have plenty more matches to go this year and some high objectives for myself, starting with tomorrow”.

The level of pressure on Abanda’s shoulders was relieved a bit by Aleksandra Wozniak, who leveled the tie by playing like her former top 30 self in a 6-2 6-2 win over Olga Govortsova. Flawless from the get-go, the Canadian confirmed her spot as the best Canadian player in the history of Fed Cup competition as she dismissed the highest ranked player of the weekend convincingly. Wozniak, now ranked outside of the top 800 in the world following one year away from the courts due to a major shoulder injury, controlled the match from the baseline in an impressive showing of aggressive-but-clean tennis.

“I’m so excited to be back playing Fed Cup, in front of the best fans in the world!”, she claimed in her post-match interview. ‘We had a great week of preparation and playing at home, it gives you that extra energy that is so important.’

Asked on what made Fed Cup special, she replied: “I never say no to Fed Cup and to represent my country. It’s a privilege. Tennis is such an individual sport, when you have the chance to play as a team, as a family, it’s special.” This may be seen as a comment directed to top Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who has decided to skip Fed Cup this weekend to focus on her singles career. Wozniak, earlier this week, had mentioned that “everyone has a busy schedule, it then only becomes a personal choice.”

All with therefore be decided in the second and final day of the tie. Abanda is set to play first against Govortsova, while Wozniak will follow against Sasnovich. A doubles match will be played; teams would most likely be decided last minute, but Canadian players Dabrowski and Zhao, winners of the most recent PanAm games, were seen practicing on site following the singles matches. Play will start at 12pm EST at the Peps in Laval University, Quebec City.

 

 

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Fed Cup Canada vs Belarus: Out of sight, in everyone’s mind

Wozniack 5

Aleksandra Wozniak

Fed Cup Canada vs Belarus: Out of sight, in everyone’s mind.

by Charles David Mathieu-Poulin

(February 5, 2016) QUEBEC CITY It seems  as though year after year, the biggest story of the Canadian Fed Cup events in Quebec City lies more in who doesn’t show up than who does. Last year, it was Eugenie Bouchard, who was yo-yoing between presence and absence for weeks before deciding to skip the World Group I encounter against the Czechs (Canada lost 0-4). This week, all eyes were on Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion and former No. 1, who had originally confirmed her intentions to show up in Canada but went MIA for most of the week. After a lot of uncertainty from the Belarus team captain over the week, it was confirmed at the draw ceremony held earlier today that Azarenka would not play this weekend in the World Group II first round between Canada and Belarus.

No official reasons were given for Azarenka’s absence, but a tweet from the Belarussian earlier this week was often brought back to the table: two simple emoji, one with an apparent fever and the other with a sad face. Both the press and public showed disappointment at Azarenka’s absence, and one may expect a lower crowd turnout at the Peps at Laval University.

While the Canadian team publicly stated that Azarenka’s absence doesn’t change anything for their preparation, they must be quite elated that their chances, which were very slim, got a bit better. Indeed, when highest-ranked Canadian Bouchard announced that she would skip the event to focus on playing tournaments to qualify for the Olympics (Bouchard later withdrew from her planned event in Rio played in two weeks), Canada had lost their only player ranked in the WTA top 300 singles rankings. With Belarus coming in with three players in the top 100 with Azarenka (14th), Olga Govortsova (74th) and Aliaksandra Sasnovich (99th), the hill seemed pretty steep.

All isn’t lost for Canada, as both Francoise Abanda and Aleksandra Wozniak, who are scheduled to play singles this weekend, have had inspired performances in Fed Cup in the past. At the same time last year, Abanda, who turned 19 on Friday, was on the rise and seen as one of the most promising junior players in the world. In Fed Cup, she played inspired tennis against Romania, beating top 50 player Begu and losing closely against Dulgheru. But a series of injuries and disappointing loses has seen the young Canadian drop more than 200 places in the ranking in the past 12 months. Nevertheless, she is talented, hits with a ton of power, and is passionate about playing for her country.

This is something Aleksandra Wozniak can relate to. The former top 25 player is trying yet another comeback from injury, as she was derailed off the courts for almost a year between September 2014 and August 2015. Through the past ten years, Wozniak has been a staple of the Canadian team: she is the player with the most ties played (34), most singles wins (31) and most overall wins (38) in the history of the country. A player who is usually pretty stoic and composed on court, she has always expressed more emotion when playing for her country, including in an emotional three set win against Slovakia on the same courts in April 2014. Canadian Captain Sylvain Bruneau will be hoping his players recapture some of that patriotic magic over the weekend.

Singles matches will start on Saturday with both Wozniak and Abanda looking to put their careers back on track, while Govortsova and Sasnovich, who both have had good success on indoor and fast surfaces, will be the clear favorites. Reverse singles and a possibly decisive doubles match will be played on Sunday and matches will start both days at noon Eastern Time.

 

Schedule: World Group II 1st Round – Canada vs Belarus.

 

Saturday February 6th, 12pm EST.

Françoise Abanda (CAN) vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)

Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) vs Olga Govortsova (BLR)

 

Sunday February 7th, 12pm EST

Françoise Abanda (CAN) vs Olga Govortsova (BLR)

Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)

Gabriela Dabrowski/Carol Zhao (CAN) vs Olga Govortsova/Vera Lapko (BLR)

 

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Tennis Channel To Air U.S. Versus Poland Fed Cup Tie

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LOS ANGELES, (February 4, 2016)Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s competition against Poland in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, this weekend, with telecasts Saturday, Feb. 6, beginning at 4 p.m. ET, and Sunday, Feb. 7, beginning at 3 p.m. ET. This year the United States is battling to return to the main field of contenders for next year’s Fed Cup competition, and must defeat Poland to keep its hopes alive for the 2017 tournament. Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams will lead Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands as they fight for a spot in next year’s competition.
In addition to televising United States-Poland this weekend, Tennis Channel will cover Fed Cup first-round competition between 2016 Fed Cup contenders Germany and Switzerland live, in Leipzig, Germany, beginning at 7 a.m. ET Saturday, Feb. 6, and beginning at 6 a.m. ET Sunday, Feb. 7. Australian Open champion and World No. 2 Angelique Kerber will lead the German charge against Switzerland and World No. 11 Belinda Bencic.
Sportscaster Steve Weissman (@Steve_Weissman) and Hall of Famer and former U.S. Fed Cup player Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76), will be in Kailua Kona covering the United States-Poland match for Tennis Channel this weekend. During Davenport’s Fed Cup career, she contributed to U.S. team championships in 1996, 1999 and 2000. Broadcaster Russ Thaler (@RussThaler) will call the action during the Germany-Switzerland tie this weekend, with Hall of Famer Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) and former player Paul Annacone (Paul_Annacone).
Tennis Channel’s live Fed Cup coverage is as follows (all time ET):
Saturday, Feb. 6:
7 a.m. –Singles Germany v. Switzerland
4p.m. –Singles #1 USA v. Poland
6p.m. –Singles #2USA v. Poland
 
Sunday, Feb. 7:
6a.m. – Doubles Germany v. Switzerland
3p.m. –Singles #3 USA v. Poland
5p.m. –Singles #4 USA v. Poland
7p.m. – Doubles USA v. Poland
The United States hopes to uphold its unbeaten record against Poland (3-0), with victories coming in 1990, 1980 and 1974. The most recent competition was during the 1990Fed Cup first round, when the U.S. team beat Poland 3-0 in Atlanta, Georgia. The American squad must defeat Poland and then win another head-to-head Fed Cup competition in April in order to qualify for the 2017 tournament. The United States leads all nations with 17Fed Cup championships, the most recent in 2000.
The U.S. Fed Cup team is captained by retired American tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, who as a player helped her Fed Cup team win the championship in 1996. Venus Williams captured the 48th WTA title of her career at the WTA Elite Open in Zhuhai, China in November. She also holds 13 doubles titles, two mixed doubles titles and four Olympic gold medals, including one in singles and three in doubles with her sister Serena. Stephens recently defeated Julia Goerges at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, to win her second WTA title. Vandeweghe achieved her career-best result in 2015, after advancing to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. In 2015, Mattek-Sands won the Australian Open and French Open women’s doubles titles with Lucie Safarova and the French Open mixed doubles title with Mike Bryan.
If Poland wins this weekend it will qualify for a chance to play for the 2017 Fed Cup. The team is captained by Klaudia Jans-Ignacikand features Magda Linette, Paula Kania and Alicja Rosolska.
In addition to daylong Fed Cup coverage this weekend, Tennis Channel will also periodically look in at the men’s tournaments in Montpellier, France, and Quito, Ecuador, as part of its world-whipraound telecast.
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Nominations Announced for 2016 Fed Cup World Group and World Group II ties

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(January 27, 2016) The ITF has announced the official team nominations for the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group and World Group II first round ties taking place on 6-7 February.

Three Zone Group I events are also taking place on 3-6 February: Europe/Africa Zone Group I in Eilat, Israel; Americas Zone Group I in Santa Cruz, Bolivia; and Asia/Oceania Zone Group I in Hua Hin, Thailand.

 

All nations contesting the Zone Group I events will be bidding to qualify for the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs on 16-17 April, with two teams qualifying from the Europe/Africa Zone, and one team from both the Americas and Asia/Oceania Zones.

 

 

 

WORLD GROUP FIRST ROUND

 

ROMANIA v CZECH REPUBLIC

Venue: Sala Polivalenta Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, ROU (hard – indoor)

 

Romania

Simona Halep

Irina-Camelia Begu

Monica Niculescu

Andreea Mitu

Captain:  Alina Cercel-Tecsor

 

Czech Republic

Petra Kvitova

Karolina Pliskova

Barbora Strycova

Denisa Allertova

Captain:  Petr Pala

 

GERMANY v SWITZERLAND

Venue: Leipziger Messe, Leipzig, GER (hard – indoor)

 

Germany

Angelique Kerber

Andrea Petkovic

Julia Goerges

Annika Beck

Captain:  Barbara Rittner

 

Switzerland

Belinda Bencic

Timea Bacsinszky

Viktorija Golubic

Martina Hingis

Captain:  Heinz Guenthardt

 

FRANCE v ITALY

Venue: Palais des Sports de Marseille, Marseille, FRA (hard – indoor)

 

France

Kristina Mladenovic

Caroline Garcia

Pauline Parmentier

Oceane Dodin

Captain:  Amelie Mauresmo

 

Italy

Sara Errani

Camila Giorgi

Francesca Schiavone

Martina Caregaro

Captain:  Corrado Barazzutti

 

RUSSIA v NETHERLANDS

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Moscow, RUS (hard – indoor)

 

Russia

Maria Sharapova

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Ekaterina Makarova

Darya Kasatkina

Captain:  Anastasia Myskina

 

Netherlands

Kiki Bertens

Richel Hogenkamp

Cindy Burger

Arantxa Rus

Captain:  Paul Haarhuis

 

WORLD GROUP II FIRST ROUND

 

SLOVAKIA v AUSTRALIA

Venue: Aegon Arena, National Tennis Centre, Bratislava, SVK (hard – indoor)

 

Slovakia

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

Dominika Cibulkova

Daniela Hantuchova

Jana Cepelova

Captain:  Matej Liptak

 

Australia

Samantha Stosur

Casey Dellacqua

Jarmila Wolfe

Kimberly Birrell

Captain:  Alicia Molik

 

CANADA v BELARUS

Venue: PEPS, Québec City, CAN (hard – indoor)

 

Canada

Gabriela Dabrowski

Francoise Abanda

Carol Zhao

Aleksandra Wozniak

Captain:  Sylvain Bruneau

 

Belarus

Victoria Azarenka

Olga Govortsova

Aliaksandra Sasnovich

Vera Lapko

Captain:  Eduard Dubrou

 

USA v POLAND

Venue: Holua Tennis Center, Kailua Kona, USA (hard – outdoor)

 

USA

Venus Williams

Sloane Stephens

Coco Vandeweghe

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Captain:  Mary Joe Fernandez

 

Poland

Magda Linette

Paula Kania

Alicja Rosolska

Playing captain: Klaudia Jans-Ignacik

 

SERBIA v SPAIN

Venue: Kraljevo Sports Centre, Kraljevo, SRB (hard – indoor)

 

Serbia

Jelena Jankovic

Bojana Jovanovski

Ivana Jorovic

Nina Stojanovic

Captain:  Tatjana Jecmenica

 

Spain

Garbine Muguruza

Carla Suarez Navarro

Lara Arruabarrena

Lourdes Dominguez Lino

Captain:  Conchita Martinez

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Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens To Lead U.S. Fed Cup Team Against Poland

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From the USTA: (January 27, 2016) WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., – The USTA and United States Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez today announced that former world No. 1 and current world No. 10 Venus Williams, No. 26 Sloane Stephens, No. 42 CoCo Vandeweghe and world No. 3 doubles player Bethanie Mattek-Sands will represent the U.S. in the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round against Poland.

 

The best-of-five match series will be played at the Holua Tennis Center at the Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Feb. 6-7. This will be the first Fed Cup tie held in Hawaii.

 

The winner of this match advances to the World Group Playoffs, held April 16-17, to compete for a spot in the 2017 World Group. The losing nation will play in the World Group II Playoffs in April to remain in World Group II in 2017.

 

Poland’s Fed Cup Captain Klaudia Jans-Ignacik named No. 93 Magda Linette, No. 159 Paula Kania, and Alicja Rosolska, ranked No. 44 in the world in doubles, to face Team USA. Jans-Ignacik, who is ranked No. 40 in doubles, is also part of the four-team roster as a playing captain.

 

“We have great variety and depth on our team for Hawaii,” said Fernandez. “I am thrilled to have Venus, one of tennis’ greatest champions, competing for us. Sloane had a strong start to the season, winning Auckland for her second tour singles title, and CoCo and Bethanie are both playing really well in singles and doubles. Poland brings a skilled team and we look forward to competing. We are very excited to bring Fed Cup tennis to Hawaii for the first time and for the fans to come cheer us on.”

 

Play begins on Saturday, Feb. 6, with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Sunday’s schedule features two “reverse singles” matches, where the No. 1 players square off and then the No. 2 players meet, followed by the doubles match. Play on Saturday begins at 11 a.m. local time (4 p.m. ET) and on Sunday at 10 a.m. local time (3 p.m. ET). Tennis Channel will present daily coverage.

 

The United States holds a 3-0 record over Poland in Fed Cup. The U.S. last faced Poland in the 1990 World Group First Round in Atlanta, sweeping the tie, 3-0. The U.S., who also faced Poland in 1974 and 1980, has never lost an individual match in Fed Cup to Poland. This will be the U.S.’s first home tie since 2014 in St. Louis, as the team competed on the road in Argentina and Italy in 2015.

 

Hawaii becomes the 16th state to host Fed Cup. Local sponsors of the event include Hawaii Tourism Authority, Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, Holua Tennis Center at Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village, KTA Super Stores, and Kona Coffee & Tea.

 

World No. 10 Williams, 35, posted her first Top 10 season since 2010 last year, winning three WTA titles and reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and US Open. In 2013, she re-entered the Top 20 for the first time since revealing that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, following the 2011 US Open. Williams holds a 21-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition, including 17-2 in singles. In 2015, she joined sister Serena on the team that defeated Argentina in Buenos Aires in the Fed Cup World Group II First Round; her second singles win clinched the tie. She was also a member of the title-winning team in 1999. Williams is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and has won 48 career WTA singles titles. She has been ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles. In Olympic play, she has won three gold medals in doubles (with Serena) in 2000, 2008 and 2012, and she captured the singles gold medal in 2000.

 

World No. 26 Stephens, 22, is coming off a tournament title, the second of her career, at the 2016 Australian Open tune-up event in Auckland, New Zealand. She won her first WTA title in 2015 in Washington D.C. Stephens’ breakout came at the 2013 Australian Open, where she defeated Serena Williams en route to the semifinals. At 19 years, 10 months, 3 days old, Stephens was the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal since Williams reached the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals at 18 years, 9 months, 8 days old. Stephens also advanced to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2013 to peak at No. 11 in the world that October. Stephens has played in three Fed Cup ties for the U.S., the last coming in 2014, and holds a 1-2 record in singles and 1-1 record in doubles. She is the daughter of the late New England Patriots running back John Stephens.

 

World No. 42 Vandeweghe, 24, advanced to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2015 for her career-best result; she also advanced to the third round of the 2015 Australian Open to peak at No. 32 in the world in February 2015.Vandeweghe won her first WTA title in 2014 in ‘S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, and reached her first pro final in 2012 at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Stanford as a qualifier, losing to Serena Williams in the title match. Vandeweghe has also had success in doubles, advancing to the semifinals at the 2015 US Open and the quarterfinals at the 2016 Australian Open. She was named to the U.S. Fed Cup team for the 2010 final versus Italy and for the 2015 World Group II First Round in Argentina, where she played singles and doubles. As a junior player, Vandeweghe won the 2008 US Open girls’ singles title. Vandeweghe’s mother, Tauna, was a member of the U.S. national team in both swimming and volleyball, and her uncle is former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe.

 

World No. 63 Mattek-Sands, 30, is being named to her first Fed Cup team since 2011. In 2015, Mattek-Sands won the Australian Open and French Open women’s doubles titles (with Lucie Safarova) and the French Open mixed doubles title (with Mike Bryan). At the 2012 Australian Open, Mattek-Sands teamed with Horia Tecau to win her first Grand Slam title in mixed doubles. She is currently ranked a career-high No. 3 in the world in doubles.Mattek-Sands has been one of the U.S.’s most consistent performers over the past decade, playing in 14 US Opens and reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2008 and the French Open in 2013 for her career-best Grand Slam results. Overall, she holds 17 WTA doubles titles and five USTA Pro Circuit singles titles. In 2011, she was ranked a career-high No. 30 in the world in singles before being sidelined by a rotator cuff injury. Mattek-Sands holds a 3-0 record in Fed Cup doubles and a 2-6 record in singles. In the 2010 Fed Cup semifinal, with the U.S. trailing Russia 2-1, Mattek-Sands won the fourth singles match to force the decisive doubles rubber and then partnered with Liezel Huber to win the doubles match and clinch a spot in the final for the U.S. Mattek-Sands then went on to face Italy in the 2010 final—the United States’ last appearance in a Fed Cup final.

 

The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. The U.S. is 37-6 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home and holds an overall 144-36 record. Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 101 nations taking part in 2016. For more information, including access to player and historical Fed Cup records, please go to www.usta.com/fedcup or www.fedcup.com. Follow the U.S. Fed Cup Team on Twitter @USFedCupTeam.

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