Riske, Vandeweghe to open Fed Cup vs. Germany

February 10, 2017 06:43 PM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Team USA will turn to Alison Riske to begin its bid for a record 18th Fed Cup crown when the World Group first-round tie with Germany begins in Maui, Hawaii, on Saturday.

At a draw held Friday at the Villas Lawn at Maui’s Royal Lahaina Resort, Riske was tabbed to open Day 1 of play against Andrea Petkovic. CoCo Vandeweghe will play Julia Goerges later Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, Vandeweghe and Petkovic are set to square off, followed by Riske against Goerges. Should the tie be level at two rubbers apiece, world No. 1 doubles player Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Vandeweghe are scheduled to face Laura Siegemumd and Carina Witthoeft for a spot in April’s semifinals.

Play begins at 11 a.m. HST on Saturday and at 10 a.m. on Sunday, although inclement weather may affect the start times of the matches. The captains may change the lineups up to one hour before the start of each match.

"I think the girls have put in a great week of practice," said Kathy Rinaldi, set to make her debut as U.S. Fed Cup captain. "I think the expectation is really to go out there, represent your country, do your very best, and we're going to have some fun and compete hard and leave it all on the court."

The winner of this matchup will advance to face either the Czech Republic or Spain in the World Group semifinals, held April 22-23, for a chance to compete for the 2017 Fed Cup title. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoffs in April to remain in the World Group for 2018.

Team USA holds an 8-5 all-time record over Germany in Fed Cup competition. The two countries met most recently in 2011 in a World Group Playoff, where the U.S. lost, 5-0. The Americans’ last victory over the Germans came in a 2008 quarterfinal by a score of 4-1.

Back in the World Group for the first time since 2014, the U.S. made several changes from the squad that represented the red, white and blue over the previous two years.

Rinaldi selected world No. 20 Vandeweghe, No. 40 Riske, No. 53 Rogers and Fed Cup veteran Mattek-Sands to her squad to face Germany, which also features a quartet of Top 100 players but is missing defending US Open champion Angelique Kerber. Rogers is not currently scheduled to compete in the tie but could be subbed in for singles or doubles play.

Saturday's competition will start with two players in solid form. Petkovic and Riske have never played each other on tour, but both come into the Fed Cup weekend with wins under their belts. Petkovic came through qualifying and won four matches in St. Petersburg two weeks ago, while Riske reached the final in Shezhen, China, last month and upset Zhang Shuai on her way to the third round of the Australian Open.

Vandeweghe is 1-2 lifetime against Goerges, with the German winning their most recent meeting, in the fourth round of the French Open in 2015.

On Sunday, the teams will play the two reserve singles followed by the doubles, if necessary.

Petkovic, a former Top 10 player currently ranked No. 51 following injury and illness, has won all three previous matches against Vandeweghe without dropping a set. They last met in the round of 16 in Doha last year, with Petkovic triumphing, 6-3, 6-4. The victory followed a win at the Wimbledon grass-court tune-up event in Eastbourne, England, the previous summer and a straight-sets win in Cincinnati in 2010.

The second singles rubber for Sunday is scheduled to be the first meeting between Riske and Goerges. If it comes down to the doubles, Team USA will like its chances with its pairing. Mattek-Sands has played with Vandeweghe a number of times in the past, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the Fed Cup playoffs against Australia and Poland last year. In total, the tandem has won eight of nine matches, with a title in Indian Wells in March.