The draws for two Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Zone Group I events – Europe/Africa and Asia/Oceania – were made at the ITF offices in London on Monday.
EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP I
Municipal Tennis Club, Eilat, Israel
There were gasps at the draw ceremony when Pool A emerged as the group of death in Eilat, with Switzerland, Great Britain and Denmark being pulled out of the hat together.
Only the top nation in each round-robin Pool gets the chance on Saturday to compete for a place in the World Group II play-offs, so there is no time for slip-ups from any of the teams. The bottom nations face a fight to avoid relegation.
Switzerland is led by the evergreen Patty Schnyder alongside fellow Top 50 player Timea Bacsinszky. The Swiss were relegated from World Group II in 2009 but are one of the favourites to bounce back this year.
Great Britain has named the experienced duo of Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong, and exciting youngster Heather Watson provides the added support that could push the Brits into promotion contention.
Denmark boasts in its ranks world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, currently chasing her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, although the team’s No. 2 player, Karen Barbat, is ranked outside the Top 500, piling the pressure onto Wozniacki’s shoulders.
The absence of Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska leaves the door open for Israel in Pool B. The host nation’s team includes world No. 12 Shahar Peer, fresh from a third round appearance in Melbourne.
Belarus is the team to beat in Pool C, having nominated world No. 9 Victoria Azarenka and world No. 73 Olga Govortsova, while Hungary and Romania are likely to dominate Pool D.
ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP I
National Tennis Centre, Nonthaburi, Thailand
AMERICAS ZONE GROUP I
Tennis Club Argentino, Buenos Aires, Argentina