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Halep and Pliskova headline Fed Cup nominations as Czech Republic host Romania in Ostrava

Leye Aduloju in News 3 Feb 2019
  • Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova set to meet in Fed Cup first round as Czech Republic host Romania
  • Carolina Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina also nominated by their countries for Zone Group matches
  • Caroline Garcia recalled by France after two-year absence
Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will continue their rivalry in the Fed Cup. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)

Top-five stars, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova are set to go head-to-head in a blockbuster Fed Cup tie as defending champions Czech Republic host Romania in Ostrava in the first round of the World Group from 9-10 February.

A host of other WTA stars will also be in action this weekend, with top-ten players, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki and Aryna Sabalenka, along with former world No. 1, Victoria Azarenka set to feature for their respective countries across the different levels of the team event.

Halep returns to action for the first time since the Australian Open, where she fell in the fourth round to Serena Williams. The Romania, who also lost her No. 1 ranking after the Australian Open, will attempt to improve her 16-5 record in Fed Cup singles rubbers, and guide her country into the semi-finals for the just the second time their history, and a first since 1973.

In the absence of world No. 2, Petra Kvitova, Pliskova leads the Czech team as the defending champions begin their quest for a twelfth Fed Cup title, and a sixth since 2012. World No. 5, Pliskova has been in excellent form this year, winning the Brisbane title in the opening week of the season, and backing it up with a semi-final run at the Australian Open. She returns to the side after missing last year’s final against the United States with a calf injury.

Apart from Halep and Pliskova, the other top-ten player in World Group action this weekend is Aryna Sabalenka, who is joined by Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Vitoria Azarenka in a powerful Belarusian team. Azarenka returns to the side for the first time in almost three years as the 2017 finalists take on Germany in Braunschweig, looking to avenge last year’s first round loss in Minsk. Germany, on the other hand are without top 20 stars, Angelique Kerber and Julia Goerges, and are instead lead by world No. 66, Andrea Petkovic.

Former world No. 4, Caroline Garcia has been recalled by France for the first time in two years, as the French visit Belgium in Liege. Garcia last played for France in the 2016 final, which they lost to the Czech Republic, and subsequently fell out with compatriots, Kristina Mladenovic and Alize Cornet after declining a call-up to the squad, opting to concentrate on her singles’ career. However, new coach, Julian Benneteau, who took over from Yannick Noah last year, said it was ‘inconceivable’ not to recall the French No. 1, and while he did not guarantee that Garcia will honour the call-up, he assured that the French star will be welcomed by the rest of the squad. Mladenovic and Cornet are both in the side to face Belgium. The Belgians will be spearheaded by their top player, Elise Mertens, as they seek just their second victory in six meetings against France.

The other world group first round tie sees the USA host Australia in Asheville, with top-20 players, Madison Keys and Ashleigh Barty leading their respective teams. The United states also feature Australian Open semi-finalist, Danielle Collins, who looks set to play her first Fed Cup rubber for her country.

Over in World Group II, Latvia’s top-two, Anastasija Sevastova and Jelena Ostapenko lead the country’s quest for promotion as they take on Slovakia, spearheaded by Dominika Cibulkova, while Belinda Bencic leads Switzerland as they host Italy, who welcome back Camila Giorgi for the first time in almost three years.

Japan and Spain are without top players, Naomi Osaka and Garbine Muguruza as they meet in Kita-Kyushu, while Netherlands, without Kiki Bertens, host Canada in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Further down the Fed Cup ladder, top-ten players, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki are set to turn out for their countries in the Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 meet in Zielona Gora in Poland from 6-9 February. Wozniacki’s Denmark and Svitolina’s Ukraine are in Pool A, along with Russia, who feature top-20 player, Daria Kasatkina, hosts, Poland, Bulgaria, Sweden and Estonia. The group winners will play the table-toppers from Group B for the right to qualify for the World Group II play-offs.

Fed Cup World Group First Round Ties

Czech Republic vs Romania, from Ostrava

Belgium vs France, from Liege

Germany vs Belarus, from Braunschweig

USA vs Australia, from Ashville

Fed Cup World Group II Ties

Switzerland vs Italy, from Biel

Latvia vs Slovakia, from Riga

Japan vs Spain, from Kita-Kyushu

Netherlands vs Canada, from s-Hertogenbosch

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Halep and Pliskova headline Fed Cup nominations as Czech Republic host Romania in Ostrava

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova set to go head-to-head in the Fed Cup as defending champions, Czech Republic host Romania in World Group first round tie.

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