By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com
Madison Keys will be making her Fed Cup debut vs. Italy.
© Getty Images
The U.S. Fed Cup team will have a new look – and display the bright future of American women’s tennis – as it opens its 2014 campaign.
U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez has selected world No. 37 Madison Keys, No. 47 Alison Riske, No. 59 Christina McHale and Cleveland native and world No. 60 Lauren Davis to her team for the 2014 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas First Round tie against reigning Fed Cup champion Italy.
Riske is the senior member of the group, at 23 years old; McHale is 21, Davis 20 and Keys 18. McHale is the only one with previous Fed Cup experience; she has posted a 4-3 record in singles and was last named to the team in 2012. Keys, Riske and Davis will be making their Fed Cup debuts against an Italian team of world No. 45 Karin Knapp, No. 84 Camila Giorgi, Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.
The best-of-five match series will be played at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 8-9.
“We have a fresh group of young talent competing in this Fed Cup tie against Italy,” said Fernandez, who resides in Cleveland. “They’ve already won big matches on Grand Slam stages and are a reason why the future of American women’s tennis is so bright.
“Both Alison and Lauren had strong showings at the Australian Open earlier this month, Madison is the youngest player in the Top 40, and Christina has had valuable Fed Cup experience as well as solid showings in tournaments around the world. I have complete confidence in this team to step up and play great tennis in front of a patriotic crowd in Cleveland.”
Riske and Davis both reached the third round in Melbourne for the first time in their careers. For Davis, it was her first time ever reaching the third round of a Grand Slam. Riske reached the third round at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open in 2013. Both have previously traveled with the U.S. Fed Cup team as practice partners.
Keys, meantime, reached the semifinals in Sydney, Australia, to kick off 2014 and advanced to the third round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2013. And McHale has advanced to the third round at all four Grand Slam events in her young career.
Ohio will be hosting Fed Cup for the first time. This match will mark the fourth meeting between the U.S. and Italy in the last six years. Italy has won the last three matchups, including the 2009 and 2010 Fed Cup finals. The U.S. defeated Italy in its first-ever Fed Cup tie, in 1963, and last defeated the country in 2003 for a 9-3 overall record. The U.S. is 37-4 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home and is the leader in Fed Cup titles at 17, with the last coming in 2000. Italy has won three of the last five Fed Cup crowns.
The winner advances to face either Spain or the Czech Republic in the semifinals, April 19-20, while the loser will compete in a World Group Play-off.