The 2017 Fed Cup World Group draw has been released. The eight teams in the draw are the United States, two-time defending champions Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Belarus, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and this year’s finalist, France. The first round of Fed Cup begins on February 11-12 of 2017.
The Czechs open up their campaign at home against Spain. As mentioned earlier, the Czech Republic are the two-time defending champions and are currently in another final, against France, for a shot to add a third title in what looks to be a Fed Cup dynasty.
The Czechs have one of the greatest Fed Cup home court advantages in the history of the sport in the O2 Arena in Prague. However, they’ve proved they can win in raucous atmospheres, winning twice on the road and need to win a third one on the road in order to win their third straight title.
Spain are no pushovers in terms of opponents. Should their star players play, they will be formidable opponents with Garbiñe Muguruza, Carla Suarez Navarro, and then the doubles pairing of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja. If need be, Suarez Navarro and Muguruza can team up in doubles as the two finished runners-up at the WTA Finals last year.
The Germans are a very strong team, led by champion Angelique Kerber. The team is seeded third but is headed on the road to the United States. The United States team has been in the World Group II for the past two years and finally won their way back up to the World Group this past year after two 4-0 beatdowns of Poland and Australia respectively.
The main question for the US is if their stars will play. The next Olympic cycle begins with this Fed Cup period but with Rio just recently in the rearview mirror and Tokyo ages away, it seems highly unlikely we will see the Williams sisters.
The Fed Cup darlings Belarus finally get their shot at the big stage when they meet fourth-seeded Netherlands. For the first time ever, the Belarusians will host a World Group tie, which will no doubt bring an insane atmosphere. Victoria Azarenka leads the charge along with Olga Govortsova, and talented youngster Vera Lapko.
The Netherlands stunned Russia this year and nearly pulled off the upset - France in the semifinals. Surprise French Open semifinalist Kiki Bertens leads the way and will be followed by Richel Hogenkamp, a woman who pulled off the stunning upset to defeat last year’s finalist Russia.
Second-seeded and this year’s finalist France kick off their campaign in Europe but head to rivals Switzerland. The French are led by the dynamic duo of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. The two play both singles rubbers and the doubles rubber, making them a force to be reckoned with should they catch fire.
However, Switzerland poses a dangerous threat to also win the title. The threesome of Belinda Bencic, Timea Bacsinszky, and Martina Hingis are very dangerous. Viktorija Golubic was the story of the semifinals of the Fed Cup, with two big wins over the Czechs in singles, but her efforts for her country fell short as they lost 3-2.