Keys, Vandeweghe to lead Team USA against Australia in Fed Cup

April 6, 2016 11:02 AM

By Jackie Finn,

The U.S. Fed Cup team will follow in the footsteps of their Davis Cup counterparts, traveling Down Under to take on Australia April 16-17 in the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoffs.

On the line is a return to the elite eight-team World Group in 2017, a feat the Americans have not accomplished since 2014. 

The U.S., which advanced to this stage of competition by defeating Poland 4-0 in World Group II play early February, will have to defeat Australia on an outdoor clay court at Pat Rafter Arena to earn the promotion to the 2017 World Group. The site, which annually hosts the ATP and WTA’s Brisbane International in January, typically features a hard-court surface.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez officially tapped No. 22 Madison Keys, No. 36 CoCo Vandeweghe, No. 57 Christina McHale and No. 3 doubles standout Bethanie Mattek-Sands to carry the flag for the red, white and blue for this tie – which comes roughly one month after the U.S. Davis Cup team traveled to Australia and emerged with a 3-1 victory to advance to the 2016 Davis Cup quarterfinals.

“I am thrilled to have Madison playing with us again,” said Fernandez of the 21-year-old, who last suited up for the U.S. in 2014. “This team also has depth with CoCo, who has been playing well in both singles and doubles this year, as well as Christina, who has a lot of Fed Cup experience. Bethanie rounds out the team as a reliable doubles player with two impressive back to back doubles titles in Indian Wells and Miami.”

The U.S. players enter the tie coming off a couple of great performances in February and March. Keys reached the quarterfinals in Miami, McHale reached the round of 16 in Monterrey and the round of 32 in Indian Wells, Vandeweghe posted four wins over Top 20 players, and Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands teamed to capture the Indian Wells doubles title, with Mattek-Sands taking the doubles title in Miami (with Lucie Safarova) as well.

To counter the U.S. squad, Australia’s Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik nominated No. 26 Samantha Stosur, No. 37 Daria Gavrilova, No. 231 Arina Rodionova and Casey Dellacqua, who is ranked No. 6 in doubles. Gavrilova, who was born in Russia, became eligible to compete for Australia in Fed Cup just last month.

The U.S. and Australia are no strangers in Fed Cup competition, having faced one another a total of 13 times. The U.S. holds an 8-5 overall advantage, but much has changed since the two countries last faced off in the 1985 World Group Semifinal in Nagoya, Japan, where the U.S. won, 2-1.

The two nations, both inaugural members of the 1963 event, are two of the most decorated in Fed Cup history. The U.S. currently sits as the most successful nation in Fed Cup competition with 17 title wins, while Australia sits third on the all-time list with seven. 

Play begins Saturday, April 16, at 11 a.m. local time (which is Friday, April 15, at 9 p.m. ET) with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Sunday’s schedule also begins at 11 a.m. local time and features two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off and the No. 2 players meet, followed by a doubles match. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match. Tennis Channel will present daily coverage.