5 things we learned from the Fed CupApril 26, 2017

Nick Kyrgios is an angel if compared to Ilie Năstase. Age didn't mellow the winner of the 1972 US Open and 1973 French Open during the World Group II playoff tie between Romania and Great Britain. Năstase, the captain of the Romanian team, was ejected from the court after cussing a tearful Johanna Konta, the top-ranked British player. If not for that incident, Konta might have upset Simona Halep in front of the home fans. Năstase may be banned from Fed Cup competition, which didn't surprise older fans. After all, he was the original bad boy of tennis. Konta admitted that it could take some time before she would get over the unfortunate incident. What happened in Constanța could affect Romania's chances in next year's Fed Cup.

Angelique Kerber still struggles to recapture her winning form. Germany will return to the World Group, and (German) staff and fans won't thank Angelique Kerber. Julia Görges, currently ranked 46 in the world, both won her singles rubber. Kerber lost her second singles rubber on Porsche-Arena, which would be the site of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Kerber is the defending champion, and she found herself in a very tough top half. (Garbiñe Muguruza, Agnieszka Radwańska, and Maria Sharapova also found themselves on the upper half of the draw.) The odds of Kerber defending the title successfully are slim, but there's no need for concern. Serena Williams is pregnant, so she is calling off the season. The race for the year-end number one ranking is up for grabs.

USA will win the Fed Cup. The United States, the most successful national team in Fed Cup competition, find themselves as an underdog in their semi-final tie against the Czech Republic. Petr Pála fielded a B team, as the top Czech players chose to prepare for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. It didn't help if the USTA picked Tampa's slow court. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe have too much experience between them, so they weren't in serious trouble during the deciding fifth rubber. The Americans must travel to Minsk, where they will play Belarus in the finals. Don't count out Victoria Azarenka, as she will return (from maternity leave) after Wimbledon. It will still be advantage USA, even if non-playing captain Kathy Rinaldi won't be able to field the Williams sisters. The current crop of American players would be committed and dissatisfied as ever.

No groundbreaking moment in the new Fed Cup format. Next year's Fed Cup will see sixteen teams in the World Group along with a four-team final appearance. It will be reminiscent of the format being used during the 1980s, which means one thing. American fans won't see the return of the Fed Cup to US soil, but the new format can result to another country becoming a first-time winner. Hello, Netherlands?

Expect Australia to go the distance. There's no need for Alicia Molik to call on Sam Stosur. Daria Gavrilova and Ashleigh Barty would be good enough for the Aussie team. (The duo overwhelmed the Serbian squad in the playoff.) Molik will be hoping for the luck of the draw.

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