In the absence of the injured Williams sisters, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Melanie Oudin will spearhead the USA’s bid to win their first Fed Cup for 10 years next month. The Americans face holders Italy in a repeat of last year’s final at the San Diego Sports Arena in California but will likely start as outsiders. Captain Mary Joe Fernandez confirmed her team on Wednesday, making one change to the one which beat Russia in the semi-finals with debutante Coco Vandeweghe replacing Sloane Stephens. However, Mattek-Sands and Oudin will likely play singles, with doubles specialist Liezel Huber also included.
Fernandez said: “Melanie, Liezel and Bethanie have repeatedly answered the call to play for their country and have together led the US to its second consecutive Fed Cup final. “We also are bringing on up-and-comer Coco, who is playing the best tennis of her young career, including a win this summer over (world number two) Vera Zvonareva. “The team is extremely motivated to try and win the Fed Cup for the US for the first time in 10 years.”
Italy name an unchanged line-up for the sixth straight tie so will again be led by French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. She will be supported by Flavia Pennetta in singles, with Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani potential doubles options for captain Corrado Barazzutti. Italy are currently on a six-match winning streak in the competition. The final takes place on an indoor hardcourt on November 6-7.