Over the course of the past 10 years, the Czech Republic Fed Cup team has been as close to a dynasty as tennis has seen in team competition.
While they’re relegated to playoff action this weekend against Canada, there’s no shortage of star power in the World Group semifinals, as Australia faces Belarus and Romania takes on France.
Each tie features at least one player who’s been ranked in the Top 10 in singles or doubles at some point in their careers. Australia, which has won the event six times, has the only player to currently hold both those distinctions: Ashleigh Barty.
Coming off the biggest singles title of her career at the Miami Open, Barty will lead her country at home and is slated to face former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second rubber. Azarenka just reached her first final after becoming a mother in Monterrey; she had to retire from that match due to injury.
While Azarenka was away, Belarus established itself as a contender in this event behind a group of young players, led by Aryna Sabalenka, who will open up the tie against the veteran Samantha Stosur.
On the other side of the draw, world No. 2 Simona Halep has Romania in the semifinals. It’s a position their opponents from France are familiar with, having won multiple titles and reaching the final as recently as 2016. The French squad features a reunion of sorts, with former doubles partners and singles standouts Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic playing on the same team for the first time since that Fed Cup final run.
Halep opens up the tie against Mladenovic, while Garcia will face Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second rubber.
The 2017 Fed Cup champions are also in action over the weekend. However, the U.S. will be hosting Switzerland in playoff action in San Antonio. The American team will be led by Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, who just won the clay-court title in Charleston.
Belinda Bencic, Switzerland’s top player who’s had a stellar 2019, won’t be making it to the court, as the visitors will be led in singles by Viktorija Golubic.
In other World Group playoff contests, Latvia takes on Germany at home, while Belgium hosts Spain.