U.S. begins 2013 Fed Cup chase

February 7, 2013

LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s first-round competition against Italy in Rimini, Italy, this weekend, with complete telecasts Saturday, Feb. 9, and Sunday, Feb. 10. The battle is a rematch of the 2010 Fed Cup championship, won by Italy. The contestwill feature two singles matches on Saturday, and two singles matches and the doubles match Sunday. Tennis Channel will carry all matches live, beginning at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Coverage from 105 Stadium Rimini, Italy, is as follows (subject to change):

Saturday, Feb. 9:

Sunday, Feb. 10:

The United States and Italy have faced each other eleven times in Fed Cup play, with the Americans winning the first nine meetings. However, Italy has defeated the United States in recent years, with back-to-back victories in the 2009 and 2010 championship rounds. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup championships, the most recent in 2000.

The 2013 U.S. Fed Cup team is captained for the fifth year by retired American tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, who won the Fed Cup championship as a player in 1996. Melanie Oudin, the young American sensation who upset former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova at the 2009 US Open, will replace 2013 Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens, who was forced to withdraw from the competition due to an abdominal injury. Fed Cup newcomer, Jamie Hampton enters this weekend’s matchup after an impressive third-round appearance at the Australian Open before losing to Azarenka. Varvara Lepchenko, who will also make her Fed Cup debut this weekend, had a breakout season last year when she reached the fourth round at the French Open and the third rounds at both Wimbledon and the US Open. Liezel Huber is currently the World No. 8 ranked doubles player, holding five Grand Slam doubles titles and winning the 2010 US Open mixed doubles title with Bob Bryan.

Italy, Fed Cup winner in 2006, 2009 and 2010, enters 2013 after losing to defending champions Czech Republic in last year’s semifinals. The Italian team is captained by Corrado Barazzutti and features World No. 7 Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci, Karin Knapp and Nastassja Burnett.