Fed Cup Semifinal Preview

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World No. 7 and 2013 New Haven Open commit Sara Errani hopes to lead the Italian team to its fifth Fed Cup final in eight years.

This weekend marks the semifinal round of the 2013 Fed Cup, the annual women’s tennis competition in which national teams play against other countries in a year-long format to attempt to claim the title.

This year, eight competitors from the 2012 New Haven Open will be competing in the semifinals – the Czech Republic (Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova and Lucie Hradecka)  vs. Italy (Sara Errani) and Russia (Maria Kirilenko and Ekaterina Makarova) vs. Slovakia (Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova).

The Czech Republic, led by 2012 New Haven Open champion Kvitova is the two-time defending Fed Cup Champion. Kvitova has amassed an impressive 13-1 record in the competition since 2011. Safarova, another stalwart on the Czech team, has also come through in big moments, clinching the 2013 championship by winning both of her singles rubbers in the final against Serbia over former world No. 1s Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.

It won’t be easy for them, however, as they face an impressive Italian team led by world No. 7 and 2013 New Haven Open commit Sara Errani and the world No. 1 doubles team of Errani and Roberta Vinci. The tie will be played on clay in Palermo, Italy, which is good news for the 2012 French Open singles finalist and doubles champion Errani, who has won five tournaments on the surface since the beginning of 2012. Rounding out the Italian team is 2010 French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone and former world No. 1 doubles player Flavia Pennetta.

The two teams have a 4-4 head-to-head, which includes the Czech Republic’s semifinal win in last year’s competition.

The other semifinal will see a resurgent Slovakian team led by Cibulkova and Hantuchova against defending New Haven Open finalist Maria Kirilenko and perennial powerhouse Russia. Russia will go in as the favorite, due to the fine form of Kirilenko and the doubles pairing of Makarova and former New Haven Open finalist Elena Vesnina, but the Slovakians are known for their fight – Hantuchova received her second career Fed Cup “Heart Award” for her outstanding performance in the first round of this year’s competition.

Other 2012 New Haven Open main draw players competing in the Fed Cup World Group Playoffs – which determines the teams who will compete in the competition’s highest tier in 2014 – are Mona Barthel (GER), Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP), Sloane Stephens (USA), Varvara Lepchenko (USA) and Sofia Arvidsson (SWE). World No. 6 Angelique Kerber, who has committed to the 2013 New Haven Open, will lead the German team against Serbia.     

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