The USTA will name Sloane Stephens, Varvara Lepchenko, Jamie Hampton, and Liezel Huber to its Fed Cup team to face Italy on February 9-10 in Rimini, TENNIS.com has learned. The tie will be played on red clay.
Venus Williams pulled out of the tie last week with a back injury, and Serena Williams has apparently pulled out as well, likely because she is still nursing a right ankle injury she sustained at the Australian Open.
Lepchenko, a Uzbekistan native, will play on the team for the first time. The world No. 21 reached the fourth round of Roland Garros last year, upsetting Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in the third round.
Stephens, who reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and is currently ranked No. 17, has also had success of clay, reaching the fourth round of last year’s French Open and the semis of Strasbourg.
Hampton, who is ranked No. 62, also had a strong Australian Open, reaching the third round before falling to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in three sets.
Doubles specialist Huber has been a stalwart of the squad. It is unclear who captain Mary Joe Fernandez will choose to partner with Huber, but Lepchenko did just reach the semifinals of the Australian Open in doubles with Saisia Zheng of China.
Italy is expected to play 2013 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani and No. 16 Roberta Vinci in singles and doubles. Errani and Vinci are also the world’s top-ranked doubles team.