Serena leads U.S. Fed Cup team into battle

April 18, 2013

LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s playoff competition against Sweden in Delray Beach, Fla., this weekend, with telecasts Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21. The United States must defeat Sweden to qualify for the 2014 Fed Cup tournament. Fifteen-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams will join her sister Venus, Sloane Stephens and Varvara Lepchenko as they fight for a spot in next year’s Fed Cup tournament after losing their first-round match in this year’s event to Italy in February.

The battle between the United States and Sweden will consist of two singles matches Saturday, and two singles matches and a doubles match Sunday. Tennis Channel will carry all matches live, beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The network will also offer same-day delayed coverage of this weekend’s Fed Cup semifinal between defending-champion Czech Republic and Italy.

Coverage from Delray Beach Tennis Center in Florida and Circolo del Tennis Palermo in Italy is as follows (subject to change):

Saturday, April 20:

Sunday, April 21:

The United States and Sweden have faced each other four times in Fed Cup play, with the United States holding a 3-1 advantage. However, the two nations have not met since 1988, when Sweden captured its sole victory against the United States in Melbourne. The American squad must defeat Sweden in order to compete in the 2014 Fed Cup competition. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup championships, the most recent in 2000.

Retired tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, a member of the winning U.S. Fed Cup team in 1996, will lead the United States Fed Cup team for her fifth year as captain. Williams, World No. 1, won her fifteenth Grand Slam singles title at the US Open last year and holds 13 doubles titles and three Olympic doubles gold medals with her sister Venus. Rising star Stephens reached a career-high ranking of World No. 16 following an impressive run at the 2013 Australian Open, where she defeated Fed Cup teammate Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Lepchenko had a breakout season last year when she advanced the fourth round at the French Open and the third rounds at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

If Sweden wins this weekend it will qualify for a chance to play for the 2014 Fed Cup. Sweden’s team is captained by Lars-Anders Wahlgren and features Sofia Arvidsson, Johanna Larsson, Hilda Melander and Sandra Roma.

In addition to televising the United States and Sweden’s Fed Cup playoff this weekend, Tennis Channel will cover the 2013 Fed Cup semifinal match between reigning champions, Czech Republic, and Italy in Palermo, Italy. Although Italy has won four of its last five meetings against the Czech Republic, the two nations are tied all time at four wins apiece. The most recent competition was at the same stage of play last year, when the Czech Republic claimed a 4-1 victory over the Italian team. Tennis Channel’s coverage will consist of two singles matches on Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. ET, and two singles matches and a doubles match Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m.