The draw for the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group and World Group II play-offs, being held on 16-17 April, was made at the ITF offices in London on Wednesday.
USA bids to keep its World Group status intact with a difficult away tie against Germany. Mary Joe Fernandez’s team, having reached the final for the last two years, suffered a first round defeat to Belgium in the current campaign.
Fernandez will be hoping to call upon the services of the Williams sisters, who were both unavailable in Antwerp through injuries, to bolster a side that currently sees Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Melanie Oudin fulfilling the two singles roles.
Germany booked its place in the play-offs with a confidence boosting away victory over Slovenia in Maribor. The emerging team is led by the charismatic Andrea Petkovic, currently ranked at a career high No. 24 in the world.
France experienced a heartbreaking first round loss to Russia in Moscow - after leading 2-0 at the end of day one - and is now on the road again to face Spain, attempting to preserve the nation’s 100 per cent record of being in the competition’s top flight.
Spain will be bidding to turn around a recent record against France that has seen the five-time Fed Cup champions lose the last three meetings against their European neighbours. The Spaniards reached the play-offs by defeating Estonia in Tallinn.
Slovak Republic was soundly beaten in the first round in Bratislava by the impressive Czech Republic, but has chance to make amends with another home tie in the play-offs against Serbia.
Serbia is firing for an immediate return to the World Group after being relegated in 2010. In the absence of top two players Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, 19-year-old Bojana Jovanovski led the Serbians to a gutsy home win over Canada in Novi Sad with the tie being decided in the final doubles rubber.
Australia also has home advantage again in the play-offs, facing Ukraine in a repeat of the tie the two nations contested at the same stage last year. The Aussies won on that occasion to return to the World Group for the first time since 2004.
Australia dropped into the play-offs following a hard fought loss at the hands of defending champions Italy in Hobart, while Ukraine progressed after a Kateryna Bondarenko-inspired triumph over Sweden in Helsingborg.
In the World Group II play-offs, the reward for Belarus and Switzerland, who both battled through Europe/Africa Zone Group I in Eilat, is home ties against Estonia and Sweden respectively.
Argentina and Japan, both winners of their Group I events, Americas Zone in Buenos Aires and Asia/Oceania Zone in Nonthaburi, meet each other for the chance to reach World Group II.
Slovenia has home advantage in the remaining tie against Canada. It will be a first meeting between the two nations.
The full draw is listed below.
WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS
Slovak Republic (s)(c)
WORLD GROUP II PLAY-OFFS
(s) = seeded nation
(c) = choice of ground
(*) = choice of ground decided by lot