U.S. women begin chase for Fed Cup

February 6, 2014

LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s first-round competition against Italy in Cleveland this weekend, with comprehensive telecasts Saturday, Feb. 8, and Sunday, Feb. 9. The battle is a rematch of last year’s first round, when Italy defeated the United States en route to claiming its fourth Fed Cup title. The contest will feature two singles matches on Saturday, and two singles matches and the doubles match Sunday. Tennis Channel will carry all matches live, beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday and 12 p.m. ET on Sunday. In addition to televising the United States-Italy matches each afternoon, Tennis Channel will cover first-round competition between Slovakia and Germany in Bratislava, Slovakia, live each morning.

Emmy Award-winning announcer Brett Haber (@Brett Haber) and Australia’s most victorious women’s doubles player, Rennae Stubbs (@rennaestubbs), will be in Cleveland for Tennis Channel this weekend. Handling play-by-play and analysis, respectively, the pair and the matches they cover are part of the network’s Center Court telecast. Based in the channel’s Los Angeles studio, the daylong tennis block will be hosted by announcer Sam Gore (@sambgore) and former players Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) and Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob).

The action will get underway each morning with Germany-Slovakia Fed Cup coverage at 7 a.m. ET. Before the U.S. team begins its afternoon play in Cleveland, Gore, Austin and Gimelstob will anchor world-whiparound coverage that takes viewers from Slovakia to men’s ATP events in Montpellier, France; Zagreb, Croatia; Vina del Mar, Chile; and back again. Similar to the network’s Grand Slam telecasts at the US Open and Wimbledon, Center Court will stay on top of the most exciting matches wherever they take place, connecting all courts via a studio hub.

Subscribers of select Tennis Channel distribution partners can follow the network via computer or mobile device with its Tennis Channel Everywhere app. Free to all Apple and Android users regardless of whether or not they currently subscribe to Tennis Channel, the app offers a number of features in addition to the network’s televised feed.

Coverage is as follows (subject to change):

Saturday, Feb. 8:

7 a.m. – Live Slovakia v. Germany / ATP Montpellier / ATP Zagreb

1 p.m. – Live Singles #1 United States v. Italy

3 p.m. – Live Singles #2 United States v. Italy

Sunday, Feb. 9:

7 a.m. – Live Slovakia v. Germany / ATP Montpellier / ATP Zagreb / ATP Vina del Mar

12 p.m. – Live Singles #3 United States v. Italy

2 p.m. – Live Singles #4 United States v. Italy

4 p.m. – Live Doubles United States v. Italy

The United States holds a 9-3 advantage over Italy in Fed Cup play. However, Italy has defeated the United States in their three most recent meetings, last year’s first round and the 2009 and 2010 championships. This weekend’s match up will be a rematch of last year’s opener, in which the Italians beat the Americans 3-2 in Rimini, Italy. The United States, which leads all nations in Fed Cup titles, has clinched the trophy on 17 occasions, the most recent in 2000.

The U.S. Fed Cup team is captained by retired American tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, who as a player helped her Fed Cup team win the championship in 1996. Fed Cup newcomer Madison Keys earned her first win over a top-10 player last year when she defeated World No. 5 Li Na at the Madrid Open. Alison Riske, another Fed Cup newcomer, turned heads at last year’s US Open when she upset former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova before falling to Daniela Hantuchova. Christina McHale had an impressive third-round performance at the US Open last year before falling to former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. Lauren Davis, who will also make her Fed Cup debut this weekend, achieved her furthest performance at a Grand Slam when she defeated Germany’s Julia Goerges en route to the third round at the 2014 Australian Open.

Italy, Fed Cup winner in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013 enters this weekend as defending champion after defeating Russia 4-0 to win the Fed Cup title in 2013. The team is captained by Corrado Barazzutti and features Karin Knapp, Camila Giorgi, Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.

Slovakia and Germany are tied in Fed Cup competition with one win apiece. Slovakia won the most recent meeting in 2003. In 2013 it fell to eventual runner-up Russia in the semifinals. The country clinched its only Fed Cup trophy in 2002. Slovakia is captained by Matej Liptak and features Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova, Magdalena Rybarikova and Jana Cepelova.

The German team is bidding to win its first first-round matchup since 2002, and most recently won the Fed Cup title in 2003. Germany is captained by Barbara Rittner and features World No. 9 Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki, Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges.