United States vs. Belgium
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas 2011 World Group Quarterfinal
Sportpaleis * Antwerp, Belgium * February 5-6
The United Statesâ€™ quest to reach the Fed Cup final for the third straight year begins at the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Quarterfinal at Belgium. Play begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. ET) on an indoor hard court at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium. This is the seventh meeting between these two nations in Fed Cup, with the U.S. owning a 5-1 advantage. Belgiumâ€™s only victory came at the 2006 World Group Semifinal in Ostend, Belgium, which is also the only meeting between these two nations contested in Belgium.
The U.S. has won the Fed Cup a record 17 times and is seeking its first title since 2000. Belgiumâ€™s sole Fed Cup title came in 2001. The U.S. reached its second consecutive final last year, where they lost to Italy in San Diego and also faced Italy in the 2009 final in Italy. The U.S. has only lost a first round tie twice (1997 in the Netherlands and 2002 in Raleigh, N.C. versus Austria) and both occurrences came in the teamâ€™s first match after winning the title (the U.S. did not compete in the 2001 semifinals after winning the title in 2000), meaning the U.S. Fed Cup has never lost two consecutive ties in the history of the competition.
This is Belgiumâ€™ s first appearance in World Group I since a 5-0 loss to the U.S. in the 2007 first round in Delray Beach, Fla. The hosts have won 10 of its last 12 home ties. The U.S. is a modest 7-8 in away matches since Fed Cup adopted the home-away format in 1995, but has only lost once on the road in the first round in five matches.
ORDER OF PLAY
The opening day of play in the best-of-five match series features each countryâ€™s No. 1 singles player against the No. 2 player from the opposing country. The exact order of play (which countryâ€™s No. 1 plays first) was determined at the Draw Ceremony on Friday. The second day of competition begins on Sunday with the â€œreverse singles,â€ starting with each countryâ€™s No. 1 player squaring off followed by the No. 2 players and then the doubles match. Each match is best-of-three-sets.
DAY/LOCAL TIME MATCH PAIRING
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Singles A: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)
Singles B: Melanie Oudin (USA) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
Sunday, 1:30 p.m. Singles C: Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. Clijsters (BEL)
Singles D: Oudin (USA) vs. Wickmayer (BEL)
Doubles: Liezel Huber/Vania King (USA) vs. Kirsten Flipkens/An-Sophie Mestach (BEL)
Captains: Mary Joe Fernandez (USA), Sabine Appleman (BEL)
QUOTES FROM FRIDAYâ€™S PRESS CONFERNECE
U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez
On the outcome of todayâ€™s draw ceremony: â€œIt really doesnâ€™t matter who plays first. Both Melanie and Bethanie have had that opportunity of leading the team with the first match. Itâ€™s a matter of playing your best whenever you play and approaching it the right way.â€
On the anticipated daily crowds of 10,000+: â€œThis will be the biggest crowd we have played against the last couple of years. Loudest was for sure was the Czech Republic (2009 semifinals in Brno). This (anticipated 10,000+ daily) is about double the size of what we have had. We expected a battle. It is great for Fed Cup. It is great for both teams. We are gonna pretend they are rooting for us the whole time.â€
On doubles: â€œWe have always been real fortunate with our doubles. Liezel (Huber) has been a great supporter (of Fed Cup) and been there every time and has played some critical matches for us. I have always said I want it to come down to the doubles. Thatâ€™s always my goal. If we win before that it is a bonus, but we like our chances if we get down to the doubles.â€
On the transition from Australia to Belgium for her and Kim Clijsters: â€œI was there pretty much there til the end, playing in the mixed doubles in Australia (she reached the semis), so I was home (in Arizona) for literally 30 hours and I had to fly here. Itâ€™s a lot of traveling, but I have had a couple of days to get adjusted. She (Kim) has probably taken some time off as well. I think on the tour you are used to playing week to week. I think weâ€™re both in shape, so weâ€™ll be good.â€
On playing Kim Clijsters in the second match on Saturday:â€œ I am really excited that I get to play her. It should be a really good match. Iâ€™m gonna give it everything I have. I am a little bit happy that Bethanie is going first. It gives me more time to prepare tomorrow. It should be a really good match and Iâ€™m looking forward to it.â€
On being the underdog: â€œOur team has come through before when weâ€™ve been the underdog. Hopefully we can do it again. Belgium is a really tough team.â€
FromÂ United States Tennis Association Public Relations