By Alessandro Mastroluca
- Sixteen teams will meet to claim a berth in the new Fed Cup finals in Budapest on April
- Great Britain will face Slovakia on an indoor clay court without British No.1 Johanna Konta
- On the ATP Tour, Frenchmen will try to extend their dominance in Montpellier while the Argentinian top players will bid for their first clay-court title in Cordoba
LONDON, UK – Great Britain are among the 16 teams facing off to join France, Australia, Czech Republic and Hungary in the new Fed Cup Finals in Budapest
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Fed Cup: Great Britain in Slovakia, Team USA features Serena, Kenin and Gauff
Great Britain’s Fed Cup will face Slovakia on a clay court under a mobile roof at the AXA Arena in Bratislava on February 7-8 in the qualifiers. They’re among the 16 teams facing off to seal a berth in the new Fed Cup Finals taking place in Budapest, 14-19 April 2020. The winners will join 2019 champions France, finalists Australia, wild cards the Czech Republic and hosts Hungary in April.
The Brits will face Slovakia in the qualifier. Captain Anne Keothavong called Heather Watson, Harriet Dart, Naiktha Bains, Katie Swan, and Emma Raducanu, as Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter are not available for selection.
Serena Williams will lead a star-studded USA side against Latvia in Everett WA, joined by Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and 15-year-old Coco Gauff, who won the Junior Fed Cup in Budapest two years ago.
Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka will also kick-start her 2020 season in Fed Cup when Belarus face Netherlands, led by Kiki Bertens. In Kortrijk, Belgium will take on Kazakhstan, while Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova is set to make her Fed Cup debut in Cluj-Napoca against Romania. Germany, eventually look as the favourite against Brazil in Florianopolis.
A total of 26 nations will take part in the Group I ties. Ukraine head into Europe/Africa Group I Event A with a strong side, with world No.5 Elina Svitolina and world No.22 Dayana Yastremska. Ukraine will face Croatia and Bulgaria having in their team two of the five Top 30 players in those ties alongside Greece’s Maria Sakkari, Qiang Wang of China, and Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. Joining the host nation in Tallinn in Group B will be Austria, Greece, and Italy.
Europe/Africa Group I Event B will take place in Luxembourg, where six nations will face off in two round-robin groups: Serbia, Sweden, Luxembourg in Group A; Poland, Turkey, Slovenia in Group B.
In Kazakhstan, China named Shuai Zhang and Saisai Zheng to lead their team in the Asia/Oceania Group I event. Joining them in the group, moved from Dongguan, are Chinese Taipei, India, Indonesia, Korea Republic, and Uzbekistan.
Chile will play host to the Americas Group I event in Santiago, facing Argentina, Mexico and Peru in Group B while Paraguay, Colombia, and Venezuela have been drawn in Group A. Promoted nations will compete in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Play-offs in April for the chance to reach the 2021 Fed Cup Qualifiers.
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ATP Montpellier | Monfils and Gasquet lead the field
French player won seven of the previous nine editions of the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. the top seed Gael Monfils, who won the title in 2010 and 2014, will play as the top seed benefitting from a bye in the opening round. He will start his campaign against his countryman Adrian Mannarino or the young Australian Alexei Popyrin.
Richard Gasquet won his tournament-record three singles titles in 2013 and 2015-16 in a streak of six consecutive finals from 2013 to 2018. He will start facing Gilles Simon trying to extend his 8-2 lead in the head to heads. The winner will meet recent ASB Classic titlist Ugo Humbert or Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez.
ATP Pune | Two-time semi-finalist Paire comes back to India
Two-time semifinalist Benoit Paire will come back to the Tata Open Maharashtra used to be held in Chennai before the Australian Open, for the eighth time. The No.1 seed will start in the second round against Taro Daniel from Japan or local wild card Sasi Kumar Mukund who bids for his second Tour-level victory.
The No.2 seed Ricardas Berankis could start his campaign against Ivo Karlovic who became in 2019 the oldest player to reach a tour-level final since a 43-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1977 (Hong Kong). Karlovic meets German left-hander Cedric Marcel Stebe in the opening round.
ATP Cordoba | Argentinian trio bids for the first clay-court title in 2020
The four-week ‘Golden Swing’ in South America gets underway at the Cordoba Open in Argentina. Diego Schwartzman, Guido Pella, and title-holder Juan Ignacio Londero aim for the first clay-court title of the season.
World No. 14 Schwartzman, a quarter-finalist last year, will debut against Leonardo Mayer or Jaume Munar in the second round. The 2019 runner-up Pella, the No.2 seed, will face the clay-court specialist Thiago Monteiro or the Frenchman Corentin Moutet. Londero, the No.8 seed, who won his first Tour-level match and his maiden ATP title in the same week last year, will aim to reach his first win after three straight defeats against Italian Marco Cecchinato in the first round. He’s in the top half of the draw, projected towards a semifinal clash against Schwartzman.
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