World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska and her younger sister Urszula are looking to lead Poland into the World Group II play-offs at this week’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group I event, which begins in Eilat, Israel on Wednesday. Sixteen teams are in action.
Poland are favourites to earn one of two places in April’s play-offs, and start their campaign with a tie against Romania in Group C, a group that also includes host nation Israel. Despite the regular presence of the Radwanska sisters, the team has only made one previous appearance in World Group II, so qualification this week would be an important step to rejoining the elite group of nations.
Agnieszka, 23, is already a veteran of 26 Fed Cup ties since making her debut as a 17-year-old at the Europe/Africa event in Turkey in 2006. Twenty-two-year-old Urszula was only 15 when she made her Fed Cup debut at the same event.
Great Britain, who include rising stars Heather Watson and Laura Robson, are also highly fancied in the competition and expected to progress from Group B, with Hungary their closest challenges.
The other groups appear more wide open. In the absence of Victoria Azarenka, top seeds Belarus could struggle to progress from Group A that includes a talented young Croatian side captained by former Roland Garros champion Ivan Majoli featuring teenagers Donna Vekic and Ana Konjuh.
Group D is also expected to be competitive, with Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pirnokova in action for Bulgaria, and Arantxa Rus heading the Dutch challenge. The four group winners will play off on Saturday to determine which two teams progress to the World Group II play-offs.
The two other Zone Group I events also begin on Wednesday, with Kazakhstan looking to secure the one qualification place from Asia/Oceania Zone Group in front of a home crowd in Astana. The hosts, who include Yaroslava Shvedova and Ksenia Pervak, take on India and Thailand in Group A.
Chinese Taipei, who feature Hsieh Su-Wei and Chang Kai-Chen, have the strongest team on paper in Group B, and will face China, Korea and Uzbekistan over the next three days. The two group winners face each other on Saturday for one place in the play-offs.
There is also one place in the World Group II play-offs for the winner of the Americas Zone Group I event being held on clay in Medellin, Colombia. The surface may favour the teams from Latin America, but Canada, led by 18-year-old Eugenie Bouchard, will have strong hopes of qualification.
Canada has been drawn in Group A alongside hosts Colombia who include the experienced pairing of Mariana Duque-Marino and Catalina Castano. Peru and Venezuela make up the group.
Brazil and Paraguay will be challenging for top honours in Group B, and will also take on Chile and Mexico in the round-robin stage. The two group winners will face off on Saturday.
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For more information visit:
- Europe/Africa Zone Group I
- Asia/Oceania Zone Group I
- Americas Zone Group I