Fed Cup weekend has arrived, with all eyes on Palermo and Moscow. In the World Group Semifinals, Italy hosts the defending champion Czech Republic, while Russia hosts Slovak Republic.
Meanwhile, eight nations battle in the World Group Playoffs this weekend with hopes of staying-in or making-it into the 2014 World Group. First-round losers to Italy this year – even after a heroic performance from Varvara Lepchenko who won both of her singles matches over Vinci and Errani – Team USA hosts Team Sweden this weekend in Delray Beach, Florida.
Needless to say, with both Serena and Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Varvara Lepchenko on the U.S. squad, the Swedish team hasn’t been given much of a fighting chance in Fed Cup’s return to popular Delray Beach. Sofia Arvidsson and Johanna Larsson will shoulder the burden against Team USA, both scheduled to play doubles and singles.
After the draw, here is the weekend’s schedule:
Singles Saturday will feature Sloane Stephens vs. Sofia Arvidsson after the Opening Ceremony at 1:30p. Then Serena Williams will take the court versus Johanna Larsson.
On Sunday, the Closing Ceremony starts at 12:45p. Serena and Sofia will be up first, followed by Sloane and Johanna. Should the Tie be even at 2-all, the doubles rubber will feature Venus Williams and Varvara Lepchenko vs. Sofia Arvidsson and Johanna Larsson. If it’s a “dead” rubber, count on seeing Swedes Hilda Melander and Sandra Roma take the court.
[lightbox link=”http://youtu.be/j5KZ0VvDiwI” title=”Vania King sings America the Beautiful at the US Open” thumb=”http://www.andytayloronline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/FedCupDelray3.png” width=”400″ align=”left” frame=”true” icon=”video”] U.S. Fed Cup Team Captain Mary Jo Fernandez is cautiously optimistic about the weekend: “You can never overlook anyone. We’ve been the underdogs many times and have come through with the big upset. Fed Cup, any time you play for a team it’s different. The pressures are different. Someone that you expect to win might deal with the pressure differently.
“And sometimes someone who plays for their country plays better than when on the tour. It can vary. I think we’re really aware of that and that you really have to focus and come in treating it as a huge match, whether you’re the favorite or not.
“We know the girls, their top two, pretty well. They’ve had good wins. They can play big tennis and worry you. We just have to be solid and stick to what we do well. Hopefully that’s going to carry us to the finish line.”
The Delray Beach Tennis Center is a world class facility where we’ve hosted numerous Davis and Fed Cup Ties. Something interesting, or even outrageous, always seems to happen when we’re down here; and with a spot in the 2014 World Group on the line, we expect to see an elevated level of play on the court from both teams this weekend. Check it out on Tennis Channel, or better yet – get your butt down here and join us in the Sunshine State’s 80-plus temperatures!
PHOTO: Fed Cup Ceremony – Delray Beach Tennis Center. In this photo, Vania King sang the National Anthem. She would later go on to sing “America the Beautiful” at the U.S. Open. Click the image for the video!