2019 Fed Cup First Round — U.S. vs. Australia
U.S. Cellular Center – Asheville, N.C.
Sofia Kenin left a lasting impression in the United States’ final Fed Cup match of 2018, and now the 20-year old Floridian has a chance to make an impactful start to the U.S.’s 2019 campaign.
The crowd inside the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C., on Saturday will surely be friendlier to Kenin than the fans inside the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, in November when Kenin, in her Fed Cup debut, battled Czech Katerina Siniakova in a 3-hour, 45-minute epic that ultimately clinched the Fed Cup title for the Czechs.
While the No. 37-ranked Kenin will have a home crowd behind her this time, her opponent is no less daunting – world No. 13 Ashleigh Barty, the 22-year old Australian fresh off a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open. Barty and Kenin were drawn to play Saturday’s first singles match, as the No. 1 Australian vs. the No. 2-nominated American. The pair have met before, oddly enough in Charleston, S.C., last year, where Barty won in straight sets on clay.
Madison Keys, the top-nominated American singles player, will then take on Australia’s second-nominated singles player Kim Birrell in Saturday’s second singles match. The No. 17-ranked Keys, a 2017 US Open finalist, has never played the No. 157-ranked Birrell, who made a run to the third round at the Australian Open in January. Keys reached the fourth round there this year, and made semifinal runs at the French and US Opens last year.
Sunday’s reverse singles matches, then, are scheduled to see Keys and Barty square off first, followed by Kenin and Birrell. Danielle Collins and Nicole Melichar were then nominated to play doubles on Sunday vs. Barty and Daria Gavrilova, though team captains can change their Sunday singles and doubles lineups the day of.
A limited number of tickets remain available on Ticketmaster.com.
The matches will air live on Tennis Channel and Stadium nationally, as well as WLOS locally in Asheville.
The U.S. is 9-5 all-time vs. the Aussies and won their last meeting, 4-0, in the 2016 World Group Playoff. Prior to that, the two countries hadn’t met in Fed Cup since 1985. The winner of this matchup will advance to the Semifinals April 20-21 to play the winner of Germany and Belarus.
ORDER OF PLAY
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. Ashleigh Barty (AUS)
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Kim Birrell (AUS)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Ashleigh Barty (AUS)
Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. Kim Birrell (AUS)
Danielle Collins / Nicole Melichar (USA) vs. Ashleigh Barty / Daria Gavriolva (AUS)