Stephens pulls out of Fed Cup with strained ab muscle

by: AP February 03, 2013

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Sloane Stephens is pulling out of the U.S. Fed Cup team's upcoming first-round matches against Italy because of a strained abdominal muscle.

Melanie Oudin replaces Stephens on the U.S. roster for the Feb. 9-10 matches on indoor red clay at Rimini, Italy.

Stephens, currently ranked a career-high 17th, was hurt during her run to the Australian Open semifinals last month. She says she's "terribly disappointed" to miss the Fed Cup.

Oudin, a 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist, joins Fed Cup rookies Varvara Lepchenko and Jamie Hampton, plus doubles specialist Liezel Huber.

The highest-ranked American, Serena Williams, hurt her back in a quarterfinal loss to Stephens in Melbourne.

Italy is expected to be led by Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

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