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U.S. draws Australia in bid to rejoin Fed Cup World Group

February 9, 2016 09:23 AM

By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com

Australia is becoming a popular destination for the best players in American tennis.

The U.S. Fed Cup team is the latest to book a trip Down Under, drawing Australia for the 2016 Fed Cup World Group Playoffs, set for April 16-17. The U.S.-Australia winner earns promotion to the 2017 Fed Cup World Group and a chance to compete for the 2017 Fed Cup title. The loser remains in World Group II next year.

The U.S.-Australia Fed Cup tie comes on the heels of the Australian Open, which wrapped up Jan. 31, and takes place roughly one month after the U.S. Davis Cup team will travel to Australia for its first-round Davis Cup tilt.

The U.S. Fed Cup team advanced to the World Group Playoff by defeating Poland, 4-0, this past weekend in the World Group II First Round held in Hawaii. Australia also advanced out of the World Group II First Round, winning the deciding doubles match to secure a 3-2 victory over Slovakia.

The U.S. last competed in the Fed Cup World Group in 2014. Previously, the Americans had competed in the World Group each year from the Fed Cup’s inception in 1963 through 2011.

The U.S. and Australia have squared off 13 times in Fed Cup competition, with the Americans holding an 8-5 advantage in the head-to-head series, but the two countries have not played since a 1985 semifinal matchup won by the U.S., 2-1.

The tie also features two of the most decorated nations in Fed Cup history. The U.S. has won a record 17 Fed Cup championships, the last of which came in 2000, while Australia is third with seven titles, its last coming in 1974. The Czech Republic is second with nine crowns, five of which were won as Czechoslovakia.

The U.S. squad against Poland was comprised of world No. 12 Venus Williams, No. 25 Sloane Stephens, No. 46 CoCo Vandeweghe and No. 77 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who is also No. 6 in the individual doubles rankings. Other players who could suit up against Australia include world No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 24 Madison Keys and No. 49 Varvara Lepchenko.

The Australian squad against Slovakia was world No. 27 and 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, No. 128 Casey Dellacqua, No. 275 Anastasia Rodionova and No. 277 Kimberly Birrell. Besides Stosur, the only other Australian woman in the Top 100 is No. 33 Daria Gavrilova, though Dellacqua is a former Top 30 singles player currently ranked No. 3 in the world in doubles.

The other 2016 Fed Cup World Group Playoff matchups are Russia versus Belarus, Spain against Italy and Romania taking on Germany.