US Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez admits that the USA’s opening round Fed Cup by BNP Paribas tie against three-time champions Italy is “not going to be easy”, but says that February’s tie is a challenge her side will be ready for.
Convincing victories over Belarus in February and Ukraine in April earned the USA a return to the World Group after a one-year absence, but their reward is a first round clash with Corrado Barazzutti’s Italian team at the 105 Stadium in Rimini, Italy, on Feb 9-10, 2013.
“Nothing like starting off with a bang with Italy,” smiled Fernandez. “Obviously it’s going to be challenging but we’re also very happy that we got back in the World Group this season. It feels like we played ages ago. Our last tie was in April in Ukraine.
“Hopefully we can get through Italy. It’s not going to be easy with the depth and variety that they have on their team. But obviously we’re looking to be confident and hopefully get through that.”
The Italians defeated the USA in back-to-back finals in 2009 and 2010 and remain one of the teams to beat in the competition in 2013.
“We played Italy in two finals. At that time it was Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta who led the charge,” continued Fernandez. “They had contrasting game styles, but were very effective on every surface. They translated their game well to every surface.
“The top two now are Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. The good thing from my perspective is that they’re players that don’t blow you off the court. You can really play against them and you’re going to have time. But I guess the downside is how tough they are mentally, how they really, every time they get on the court, have a purpose and play the right way.
“It will be challenging, doubles-wise. They won the French and the US Open, they’ve proved how tough they are. So there’s a lot of depth. It’s going to be interesting and we’re going to give it our best.”