2016 Fed Cup: ScoreboardApril 20, 2016

The Belarus Fed Cup team made history last Sunday, as they were promoted to the World Group for the first time. The seeding for the 2017 Fed Cup will be known before the end of the year, as defending champion the Czech Republic will travel to France this November. Will the top seed win their fifth Fed Cup in six years? How will next year's team competition turn out? The scoreboard will give fans some answers. It's time for a roll call:

France (A). The France Fed Cup team were the heavy favourites in this semifinal tie, and the indoor clay court in Arena Loire (in Trélazé, France) was supposed to put Amélie Mauresmo's charges in an advantage. But Kiki Bertens, who was ranked 41 in the WTA rankings three years ago, had other plans. Netherlands was one rubber away from advancing to the finals, all thanks to the native of Wateringen. Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia relied on their experience to pull a come-from-behind victory. "Three years ago we were in a very different situation. Now to be in the final - well done to all the girls. They did unbelievably. Even the doubles was far from easy. They really turned things around," said Mauresmo. The French team reached its first Fed Cup final since 2005, and they could win their third title. The odds will be in their favour; the French tennis federation is likely to select a clay court. Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafářová, the top two players from the Czech Republic, might be tired from playing too many matches. They would cite the Asian swing.

USA (A-). The Williams sisters were unavailable, not wanting to risk injury in this long season. Sloane Stephens won her third title of the year in the green clay courts of Family Circle Tennis Center (on Daniel Island, Charleston, South Carolina, USA), so she couldn't make the trip to Brisbane. It was not an issue, as the United States Fed Cup team swept aside their Aussie opponents at the Pat Rafter Arena. The rubbers were played on clay, which would suit Sam Stosur's game. But the Americans played well when it mattered most.

Czech Republic (B+). The French squad may have the homecourt advantage in the finals, but it doesn't mean that they would be certain of victory. Depth is the major advantage of the Czech Republic Fed Cup team. The absence of Kvitová and Šafářová should've given their Swiss opponents a slight advantage, but Lucie Hradecká and Karolína Plíšková were too much for Viktorija Golubic and Martina Hingis. (Hingis is the current top-ranked player in the women's doubles.) And the tie took place in Lucerne. The French tennis federation must think about the finals carefully.

Spain (B). In Club de Tennis Lleida, Garbiñe Muguruza led Spain to a 4-0 win over Italy. "I'm excited to have Garbine and excited to have Carla (Suárez Navarro), with their commitment we can do very well in this competition," said Conchita Martinez, the captain of the Spain Fed Cup team. The draw for next year's World Group is not yet known, though. And it can affect the chances of the Spanish squad. An opening tie against the Czech Republic, away from the red clay courts, may push them to the wall.

Russia (C). Aliaksandra Sasnovich gave Belarus the deciding win in their tie against Russia. There was silence in the Luzhniki Small Sports Arena, as the Russia Fed Cup team are out of the World Group for the first time in 19 years. Anastasia Myskina, the 2004 French Open champion, brought a young squad. (Maria Sharapova was suspended, while Svetlana Kuznetsova was unavailable.) The Russians might have to wait for a few years.

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