USA’s Sloane Stephens and Germany’s Angelique Kerber will miss their nation’s respective Fed Cup by BNP Paribas ties this weekend due to injury.
Stephens, who pulled out of the USA’s World Group first round tie against Italy with a strained abdominal muscle, has been replaced by Melanie Oudin, the winner of the inaugural Fed Cup Heart Award in 2009. Nineteen-year-old Stephens is ranked a career-high No. 17 after reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open and had been due to lead her country as the top-ranked player for the first time.
Kerber, meanwhile has failed to recover from the back injury that caused her problems during her fourth round defeat to Ekaterina Makarova in Melbourne and will be replaced by doubles world No. 18 Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
“I’ve tried everything, but unfortunately my back is not doing well,” lamented Kerber in a statement on her facebook page. “I’m quite sure that the girls will do well against France without me. I keep my fingers crossed for them firmly and my thoughts are in Limoges!”
Both players will be key omissions for their nations this weekend as USA face a stern test against No. 2 ranked team Italy and Germany start their bid to win promotion back to the World Group against a French team welcoming world No. 10 Marion Bartoli back into the fold.