Keys, Collins, Kenin, Melichar
named to Fed Cup team
Ashley Marshall | January 30, 2019
Fresh off her run to a career-best showing at the Australian Open, Danielle Collins is one of three Top 40-ranked Americans named to the U.S. Fed Cup team that will host Australia in Asheville, N.C., next month.
Collins, who climbed to No. 23 in the world with her deep run in Melbourne, will join world No. 17 and former US Open finalist Madison Keys, world No. 36 Sofia Kenin and doubles world No. 13 Nicole Melichar in the first-round tie, which will be played on an indoor hard court inside the U.S. Cellular Center, Feb. 9-10.
The U.S. Cellular Center was the site of the U.S. team’s first-round victory over the Netherlands last year and is the first site to host consecutive Fed Cup ties in the U.S. in 12 years.
World singles No. 14 and doubles No. 6 Ashleigh Barty, No. 46 Daria Gavrilova, No. ADVERTISEMENT 142 Priscilla Hon, No. 157 Kimberly Birrell and No. 160 Astra Sharma will represent Australia for captain Alicia Molik in the best-of-five-match series.
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 on April 20-21 to play the winner of Germany and Belarus.
Continuing to showcase the depth of American tennis, this lineup is the seventh different combination of players for U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi, who is 5-1 leading the team and who lost her first tie in last year’s final. The U.S. has not nominated the same team for consecutive ties since 2003, a span of 36 matches and four captains.
Keys (pictured above) will be appearing in her fifth Fed Cup tie, after sending the U.S. to its second straight Fed Cup final last year with a tie-clinching singles win in the semifinals against France. A 2017 US Open finalist and career-high world No. 7, Keys reached the semifinals at both the US Open and French Open and the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2018.
Keys was also the top-ranked American in the lineup when the U.S. swept Australia in Brisbane in 2016 and also when she made her Fed Cup debut against reigning champions Italy in 2014.
Collins’ breakout run at the Australian Open earlier this month gives Rinaldi a lethal one-two punch at the top of the lineup. A two-time NCAA singles champion at the University of Virginia, Collins earned her debut U.S. Fed Cup nomination for the 2018 final against the Czech Republic in Prague last November but did not appear in a match.
Joining Keys and Collins is 20-year-old Kenin, 20, the youngest player in the Top 40 and almost an unlikely star of the 2018 final. Kenin made her Fed Cup debut in Prague as a 19-year-old, only the third U.S. teen to make her debut in a Fed Cup Final, and spent six-and-a-half hours on court over two singles matches, including a three-hour, 45-minute thriller against Katerina Siniakova in the deciding singles match.
Rounding out Rinaldi’s lineup is Melichar, the top-ranked American in women’s doubles. She won her fourth career WTA doubles title in Brisbane to start 2019 after also earning her first Fed Cup nomination against the Czech Republic.
Play will begin at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s two singles matches will pit each country’s No. 1 player against the other’s No. 2. Sunday will feature the two reverse singles matches, followed by a possible decisive doubles match. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match. The matchups and order of play for the weekend’s matches will be determined at the official draw ceremony, which will be held at 12 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, in the U.S. Cellular Center lobby.
Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com. Tennis Channel and Stadium will present live daily coverage nationally in the U.S., while WLOS-TV will carry the matches locally in Asheville.
The USTA has partnered with Explore Asheville, Ingles Markets, Mercedes Benz of Asheville, Mission Health, New Belgium Brewing Company and the Omni Grove Park Inn to bring this event to Asheville. Last year’s tie generated an estimated $3.5 million economic impact for the region, and this year’s tie will feature a variety of community and kids’ events that will once again turn the competition into a weeklong celebration of tennis.