After a defeat in the quarterfinals of the Fed Cup earlier this year, Romania and Germany will meet in the World Group playoffs to stay in the World Group next year. Romania will be led by Simona Halep and Germany will be led by Angelique Kerber.
After reaching the final in 2014 and the semifinals in 2015, Germany failed to reach the semifinals again this year. They fell to the very solid team of Switzerland in early February. The nominees for this tie are not unfamiliar. The Australian Open champion, Angelique Kerber, will lead her country this weekend. She should play the two single rubbers alongside Andrea Petkovic, who is the second best ranked player of Germany.
The two other players who were nominated for this tie are Annika Beck and Julia Goerges. Beck is off to a very solid start of the year. She even gave a point to her country by beating Timea Bacsinszky in the quarterfinals against Switzerland. Concerning Julia Goerges, she is also off to a good start in 2016, but her best results lie in her doubles partnership with Karolina Pliskova, with whom she reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and the final at the BNP Paribas Open of Indian Wells. She could hence be a huge weapon for the doubles rubber.
Simona Halep and Irina-Camelia Begu are the leaders of the Romanian team. In the quarterfinals, they drew the Czech Republic, led by Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova. It was a very tough opening round for them and they failed to reach the semifinals. However, Romania was very close to the victory against the Czech Republic and could cause a lot of problems for Germany. The nominees of the team are led by Simona Halep, who will lead her country. Even though she is not having her best season, she still is a threat, especially since she will play in front of her home crowd.
Monica Niculescu is the second best ranked player of the team but she was not chosen to play the first singles rubber of Saturday. The one who was chosen is Irina-Camelia Begu, who is only ranked a bit lower than Niculescu. She will play the first singles rubber against Angelique Kerber and she could be very dangerous as she has already beaten her twice in the past, both times in 2015. The last player who completes the Romanian field is Alexandra Dulgheru who is on a five match losing streak.
What can we expect?
This will be a very interesting tie. Both teams have a top ten player and the second player of both teams are solid players who are always dangerous when they have to fight for their country. Simona Halep will have an advantage over the Germans as she has never lost to one of them since 2009, when Kerber, Petkovic and Goerges had each won a match against her. Annika Beck defeated her once in 2013, but it was by retirement.
Then, following the logic of the rankings, both Kerber and Petkovic should manage to get at least one win against the other Romanian player. The doubles rubber could be decisive and could also be very interesting as the Olympic Games are looming.