VANDEWEGHE, DAVIS TO LEAD U.S. IN
FED CUP SEMIFINAL
Ashley Marshall | April 12, 2017
Sticking with the team that brought her to the dance, U.S. Fed Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi announced a mostly unchanged squad for next week’s semifinal tie against the Czech Republic.
Rinaldi’s team will be led by world No. 24 CoCo Vandeweghe and also includes world No. 1 doubles player Bethanie Mattek-Sands and world No. 49 Shelby Rogers from the team that defeated Germany in the Fed Cup first round in Hawaii in February. Rinaldi also recalled world No. 39 Lauren Davis to complete the four-player squad.
The semifinal tie will be held at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa Bay, April 22-23, with the winner advancing to face either Belarus or Switzerland in November’s Fed Cup final.
"I’m expecting some tough competition. The Czech Republic are very strong and have won it five out of six times," Rinaldi said in an exclusive Q&A with USTA.com, referring to the Czechs having taken five of the last six Fed Cup titles. "We’re certainly the underdogs going in there, but we have a great team and we’re going to work hard and have a lot of fun and compete and leave our hearts out on the court. That’s what these girls do. It’s incredible to see the emotion that it brings out of the players and how much it really means to them to support their country. The Czech Republic are tough in singles and in doubles and their record speaks for itself, but we’re going to go for it."
Czech Republic captain Petr Pala nominated Katerina Siniakova, Kristyna Pliskova, Denisa Allertova and Marketa Vondrousova to face the U.S. Missing from the Czech squad are world No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, both of whom were unavailable for the tie.
Vandeweghe (pictured above) is a combined 6-3 in five Fed Cup ties, including 3-1 on clay. Her last Fed Cup singles match played on clay came against Australia on a temporary red clay court in Brisbane, where she rallied to defeat former French Open finalist Sam Stosur.
Vandeweghe started 2017 strong, with a surprise run to the Australian Open semifinals that included triumphs over world No. 1 Angelique Kerber and seventh-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza and helped her climb to a career-best No. 20 in the world rankings. She also helped lead the U.S. to the Hopman Cup final and went 2-0 against Germany in Fed Cup play, with victories over former Top 15 players Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges. Vandeweghe’s torrid pace slowed during the spring hard-court season, however, with consecutive losses in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami.
Few Americans are playing better tennis this year than the 23-year-old Davis, who captured her second career title in Auckland, New Zealand, to begin the season and followed it up with runs to the quarterfinals in Doha and Dubai and the round of 16 in Indian Wells.
Davis currently sits six spots below her career high of No. 39, achieved three weeks ago, and she is expected to climb even higher in the coming months. The 5-foot-2 baseliner has very few points to defend in the summer’s clay- and grass-court season ahead of the US Open Series back on the North American hard courts.
For Rogers, the outdoor clay should suit her game and give the U.S. an excellent option in both the singles and options, should Rinaldi need it. Rogers’ greatest triumphs have been on the clay, and her proficiency could play a key role in Team USA’s bid to upset the champions.
Rogers reached the final of Bad Gastein, Austria, as a qualifier in 2014 and advanced to her second career final on the outdoor clay of Rio de Janeiro last February, pushing winner Francesca Schiavone to three sets in the championship match and launching herself up the rankings to 108 in the world. Clay continued to serve the 24-year-old well that spring, and a breakout run to the quarterfinals of the French Open catapulted her to No. 59 in the standings.
Davis or Rogers could possibly partner Mattek-Sands against the Czech Republic. Davis has never partnered Mattek-Sands in a tour-level match before and has played just one Fed Cup doubles match, partnering Keys in a straight-sets victory over Italy in the World Group quarterfinal. In her Fed Cup debut against Germany, Rogers and Mattek-Sands won a dead rubber against Laura Siegemund and Carina Withoeft who were forced to retire in the first set.
Mattek-Sands has played previously with Vandeweghe; the two teamed to win the Indian Wells title in 2016.
In her career, Mattek-Sands has won six Grand Slam doubles titles as well as an Olympic gold medal, and she has a perfect 6-0 doubles record in Fed Cup play. She last contested a Fed Cup singles match in 2011 against Belgium.
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